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On this day in history, October 31

Enormously popular singer Taylor Swift breaks new ground. Picture: Archives

Enormously popular singer Taylor Swift breaks new ground. Picture: Archives

Published Oct 31, 2023


Some of the more interesting things that happened on this day.

683 During the Siege of Mecca, the Kaaba catches fire and burns down.

1517 Monk Martin Luther challenges the money-making pope by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg – an act that was to have monumental consequences, changing the course of religious and cultural history and becoming the foundation of the Protestant Reformation.

1541 Michelangelo finishes painting The Last Judgement in the much-admired Sistine Chapel of the Vatican.

1756 Adventurer Giacomo Casanova, a name synonymous with passion, escapes from prison in Venice.

1876 The Great Backerganj Cyclone ravages British India (Bangladesh), killing 200 000 people.

1888 Scottish vet John Boyd Dunlop patents the pneumatic bicycle tyre.

1918 The Spanish flu-virus kills 21 000 in one week in the US. South Africa was not immune to the outbreak which infected 500 million people globally, killing 50 million-100 million (3%-5% of Earth’s population).

1923 The first of 160 consecutive days of 100ºF (38ºC) temperatures at Marble Bar, Australia.

1926 Anteo Zamboni, 15, tries to assassinate Italian leader and fascist Benito Mussolini, and is lynched on the spot.

1940 The Battle of Britain ends and with it any hope Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler has of invading the British Isles.

1973 Three IRA members escape from a Dublin prison in a helicopter.

1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots leave about 3 000 Sikhs dead.

1995 Nigerian political activist Ken Saro-Wiwa is one of eight sentenced to death for the death of four Ogoni leaders. Saro-Wiwa protested on behalf of the Ogonis against pollution of their land by oil companies.

1999 Yachtsman Jesse Martin returns to Melbourne, Australia, after 11 months circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.

2015 A Russian airliner crashes killing all 224 on board in Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. It is Russia’s worst air disaster.

2018 The world’s biggest statue, the 182m-high Statue of Unity of Indian independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is unveiled in Gujarat, India.

2021 The world's largest solar farm goes live at Sirindhorn reservoir, Thailand, as a hydro-floating solar hybrid system the size of 70 football fields.

2022 US singer Taylor Swift becomes the first artist in history to claim all top 10 slots on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, all tracks from her album, Midnights.