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"Why Are Casualty Figures In English So Low?"

A reader is wondering:

I've been looking at the Italian press because of the colonial connection and because they're just about the only country in Europe with actual relations with Ghadafi.  The US press seems to be mirroring Al Jazeera and reporting small groups of casualty numbers here and there.  The Italians are reporting much more alarming figures.  Maybe they're concerned about refugees, but there are probably more Italians on the ground in Libya than any other Europeans. Repubblica is saying at least 6,000 dead across Libya and RAI (Italian TV) is saying at least 10,000 dead across Libya.

This in a country with a population of about 6.5 million.  HUGE numbers.  Tiananmen Square type numbers in a country with maybe 5% of the population of China.  Utterly horrifying.  And with all our history of hating Ghadafi, why is our press being cautious now?

Those figures seem really high based on the other reports we've come across, but the discrepancy between Italian estimates and others is consistent. From the NYT:

Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said Wednesday that estimates of more than 1,000 Libyan civilians killed in clashes with security forces and government supporters “appear to be true.” Figures for deaths in the Libyan unrest have been difficult to pin down. Human Rights Watch has confirmed roughly 300 deaths in the weeklong uprising, while noting that its estimate is conservative because of the difficulty in gathering information from morgues and hospitals when phone service is intermittent and the Internet is nearly blacked out.