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We in the Western scientific community have had the luxury, throughout most of our careers, of working in an environment insulated from the terrors of war and political violence. Well distanced from these horrors, we are often numbed by headlines reporting political turmoil elsewhere in the world—whether in Afghanistan, South Africa, or Yugoslavia. There are times, however, when personal contact with a colleague caught within one of these political wildfires reminds us of the very human tragedy that underlies these headlines.

In studying a number of large earthquakes that took place in Central Asia in the 1930s and 1940s, we have been collecting seismograms from the well established European seismic observatories that recorded the events. Among them was the Zagreb Observatory, operated by the Mohorovicic Geophysical Institute of the University of Zagreb. The city of Zagreb—along with its scientific and cultural institutions—is now under siege, a result of the violent military conflict between the Yugoslav federal government and the Republic of Croatia. The following letter, which accompanied the Zagreb seismograms, provides a vivid picture of the daily hardships that our colleagues in Yugoslavia must be facing and a call to members of the international scientific community to help put an end to the rapidly escalating violence in Yugoslavia.