Italians are still reeling from the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit the Italian city of L’Aquila, in Abruzzo province, on Monday. The rescue efforts, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi announced, would continue for another 48 hours as the chances for survival fade. At the last count, more than 200 people had died and another 1,000 were injured. At least 15 people are still missing. Citizens in Rome, just 60 miles away, felt the initial quake; subsequent aftershocks are still rattling the region. As of this point, the Italian government has set aside 30 million euros to assist the region though Berlusconi has refused aid offered by foreign countries, saying Italians are “able to respond alone…we’re a proud people.” Berlusconi, it should be noted, is facing a waning public image.
Despite a large—and increasing—foreign warship presence in the Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates hijacked five ships over the weekend with at least two seized in the Indian Ocean, a signal that the pirates are leaving their comfort zone of the Somali coast for waters far offshore. The ships—seized in separate attacks—will be held for ransom. Between 15 and 20 warships from a variety of countries, including the United States, Russia, China, and Europe, patrol these sea lanes, but with some 1,000,000 square miles of open water, pirates still attempt near-daily attacks, with around 50 successful hijackings in 2008. The pirates have adapted to the increased military presence in the waters by arming themselves more heavily and seem largely undeterred, reports The Times.
The latest country gripped by popular protest is Moldova, but this time the financial crisis isn’t taking center stage. A crowd of mostly students attacked Moldova’s parliament in Chisinau, the country’s capital, today in response to the governing Communist Party, which won the country’s general election on Sunday with a reported 50 percent of the vote. The protesters, as well as the opposition Liberal Party, believe the results to be fraudulent; independent observers called the election “fair.” Dorin Chirtoaca, the mayor of Chisinau and deputy head of the Liberal Party, said “people did not vote for the Communists in such large numbers.” The current president, Vladimir Voronin, will step down today after serving two terms while the new government attempts to form a coalition to elect a new president. Voronin’s successor will inherit the poorest country in Europe (average monthly wage: $250 per month) and a dispute over the breakaway region Trans-Dniester.