Nation: The Night the Roof Fell In

Barely six hours earlier, the arena in Hartford, Conn., had echoed with the cheers of 5,000 fans watching an evening college basketball game. Now it lay in ruins. Said Restaurateur Frank Parseliti, owner of one of the 50-odd small businesses situated in the-$70 million civic center complex that was built only three years ago: "It looks like a big meteorite crashed in the middle of the coliseum." With a terrifying roar, the 2½-acre, 1,400-ton steel-latticed roof of the deserted arena had collapsed under the weight of 4.8 in. of wet snow.

As New England storms go, that is by no means an...

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