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Worldwide Interest in Drama of Infant Trapped in Well With PM-Well Rescue, Bjt

October 17, 1987

Undated (AP) _ The plight of little Jessica McClure captured the attention of the press around the world, from daily radio news bulletins in Britain to coverage in English-language newspapers in Asia.

In Italy, the dramatic developments from Midland, Texas, were followed with especially keen interest, as TV viewers were reminded of a similar rescue attempt of a 6-year-old boy that ended tragically in 1981.

On Friday, The Times of London carried a full report on Jessica, with a picture of her, another photo of rescue workers listening for sound from her, and a diagram showing where she was trapped.

Other British newspapers that carried stories on the girl included the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Star, the Sun and the Daily Mirror. In several of the newspapers, she was front page news.

British television, especially the morning breakfast programs, carried full reports, and there were news bulletins about her on the radio.

In Hong Kong, English- and Chinese-language TV stations carried reports on the girl, and the South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper, ran a story that covered a quarter of a page.

Jessica was the lead story in Pacific Stars and Stripes, and items about her ran in the English-language Japan Times today, as well as the English- language Asahi Evening News.

Her story also received display in newspapers in West Germany, the Netherlands, and in major Brazilian newspapers.

The rescue was among the lead items on Brazil’s prime-time TV newscasts Friday night, as well as TV news in Santiago, Chile.

But it was in Italy where the story received perhaps the biggest following outside the United States.

Six years ago, glaring TV lights accompanied the dramatic but failed attempts to save Alfredo Rampi from a 196-foot shaft he fell into on his grandparents’ property in Vermicino, a hilltown outside Rome.

″A Vermicino Also in the United States,″ headlined Milan’s Corriere della Sera on Friday.

After almost four days of rescue efforts, which was watched live by millions of Italians, the trapped boy died of suffocation from sand in his lungs.

″Jessica is like Alfredino - there, underneath, a little voice is singing,″ wrote Rome’s daily Il Messaggero in reporting on the effort to save Jessica.

This week, Italian television showed Texas rescuers drilling from a parallel tunnel toward the spot where Jessica was trapped. The same method was attempted in the Alfredo rescue effort, whose failure triggered an inconclusive six-year court investigation and drew criticism from the Italian press for being inefficient.

″From what I hear on the radio, it seems to me that in Texas they are making the same mistakes that cost my son his life,″ Franca Rampi, Alfredo’s mother, was quoted as saying on Friday by the ANSA news agency.

″I have asked the civil defense to get in touch with the American rescuers, but they said it would be an interference, that they know what they are doing.″

″I would like the rescuers of the girl to know the conclusions reached by Italian experts, unfortunately too late - but no one will listen to me,″ she added.

Update hourly