Real people, real stories – more than just dates and boring facts
588BC Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah’s reign. The siege lasts two years and results in the razing of the city and the Jews being carted off to Babylon in exile. Zekekiah is forced to watch his sons’ beheadings – the last thing he sees before being blinded by his captors.
1535 Furious that the Pope won’t annul his marriage, Henry VIII makes himself head of the church in England.
1876 The first newspaper in Afrikaans, Die Afrikaanse Patriot, is published in Paarl to promote Afrikaans as an alternative to Dutch.
1889 The Coca-Cola Company, then the Pemberton Medicine Company, is formed.
1919 Great Molasses Flood: A burst storage tank sends molasses sweeping through Boston, killing 21 people and injuring 150.
1943 The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon, in Washington, DC, is completed.
1951 Thought dormant, New Guinea’s Mt Lamington erupts violently, sending out a ‘Cloud of Death’ at 550kp/h, snuffing out all life within 12km (including 3 000 people).
1951 Ilse Koch, ‘The Bitch of Buchenwald’, is jailed for life by a West German court.
1996 King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho dies when his drunk driver drives their car off a cliff.
1999 Having failed to graduate once before, enraged agricultural college student David Malebane seeks out and shoots three lecturers before killing himself at the Tompi Seleka Agricultural College in Limpopo.
2007 Chimamanda Adichie’s novel about the Biafran War, Half of a Yellow Sun, is published.
2009 Pilot Chesley Sullenberger ‘splashes down’ US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River just after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia airport because of a bird strike. All passengers and crew survive in what becomes known as the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’.
2022 Undersea volcano Hunga Ha’apai erupts 65km north of Tonga’s capital, creating a tsunami and a sonic boom that rippled around the world – twice. The eruption sent a plume of water vapour in to the stratosphere (12km about Earth). It was enough water to fill 58 000 Olympic swimming pools – four times the amount of water vapour sent up by Mount Pinatubo’s explosion in the Philippines in 1991. It partially depleted Earth’s ozone layer in the following weeks. The event released more than 1 000 times more energy than Hiroshima nuclear bomb. Fortunately, only 6 people died, four in Tonga and 2 in Peru, South America, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
2023 At least 68 people killed in a plane crash by Yeti Airlines in Pokhara, Nepal, the country’s worst crash for three decades.
2023 Mexico brings into force world's strictest anti-smoking laws, banning smoking in public places such as beaches and parks.