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It was the evening of June 10, 1981 when the father of little Alfredo, 6, called the police alarmed because his son had not returned home. Then, the tragic discovery: the child had fallen into an artesian well in Vermicino, near Rome.

The news was announced on June 11th: the date when an exhausting and useless rush to save him began.

The eyes of all Italy for 60 hours remained focused on the small town near Rome.

The story changed forever the way to understand television: the drama of Alfredino was consumed live on TV under the eyes of Italians and the announcement of his death, after several attempts to save it, was given in tears by the host of Tg1 Massimo Valentini.

The attempted rescue was a major media event. It was the first time in Italy that a live outside broadcast had attracted millions of people to follow the events on TV.

Initially, images were transmitted live because it was believed that there would be a quick and positive outcome.

After some time the situation appeared to be slowly worsening, but this did not interrupt the transmissions. It posed many questions about privacy and the ethics of broadcasting such events which sparked a widespread public debate.

The story also made the international news, a BBC Headlines broadcast carrying the story of a rescue attempt as its top headline on 12 June.

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