On this day in history, February 3

They say our health is fine, but it’s not, say residents. Picture: AFP

They say our health is fine, but it’s not, say residents. Picture: AFP

Published Feb 3, 2024


More than just dates and boring facts.

1451 Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror inherits the throne of the Ottoman Empire.

1480 Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who first circled the globe, is born in Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal. He dies in 1521.

1488 Bartolomeu Dias and his crew are the first Europeans to land on South African soil at Mossel Bay.

1809 Felix Mendelssohn, German composer and pianist, born in Hamburg (now in Germany). Died 1847.

1815 World’s first commercial cheese factory established in Switzerland.

1863 Samuel Clemens first uses the pen name Mark Twain in a Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise.

1882 Circus owner PT Barnum buys his world-famous elephant Jumbo.

1917 US ocean liner Housatonic is sunk by a German submarine. On the same day US President Woodrow Wilson breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany. It would be the event which brought the United States into World War I.

1924 At the first Winter Olympics held at Chamonix in France, Canada beats the United States 6-1 to retain the Olympic ice hockey gold medal (won at 1920 Summer Games). Canadian LW Harry Watson top scores with 46 points. Also Switzerland claims the inaugural Olympic bobsleigh gold medal, ahead of Great Britain and Belgium.

1928 Paleoanthropologist Davidson Black reports his findings on the ancient human fossils found at Zhoukoudian, China, in the journal Nature and declares them to be a new species he names, sinanthropus pekinensis (now known as homo erectus).

1945 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Yalta, Crimea, for the “Big Three” Yalta Conference with American president Franklin D Roosevelt and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin.

1959 In what became known as “The Day the Music Died”, a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, kills musicians Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, JP Richardson (aka The Big Bopper).

1960 British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan makes his famous “wind of change” speech in South Africa’s Parliament. The speech arguing against the apartheid regime angers local politicians.

1982 The record for the greatest helicopter lift, of 56 888kg, is achieved at Podmoscovnoe, USSR.

1986 The Pope and Mother Teresa meet in Calcutta.

1993 The federal trial of four police officers charged with civil rights violations in the videotaped beating of Rodney King begins in Los Angeles, California. The jury found Officer Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon guilty, and they were sentenced to 30 months in prison. Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno were acquitted of all charges.

2016 Lord Lucan’s death certificate is granted, 42 years after he disappeared following the murder of nanny Sandra Rivett.

2020 Cruise ship Diamond Princess with 3 700 passengers quarantined in Yokohama port, Japan after cases of Covid-19 found on board.

2022 ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi blows himself and his family up during a raid by US Special Forces in Syria.

2023 Coldest wind chill likely ever recorded in the US of minus 108 degrees, taken at Mount Washington Observatory, New Hampshire.

2023 Dozens of wagons in a train carrying toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride – used in the plastic industry – derails in East Palestine, Ohio, starting a fire and causing widespread and deadly pollution. It leads to an intentional burn-off of chemicals to prevent an explosion, but only two days later. A year later, residents of the small Appalachian town say the “nightmare” is ongoing and that they feel like they are in the middle of an “apocalyptic movie” as their health issues continue unabated.

“Our health has been diminished,” said one resident. “We’ve been told the soil is fine, the air is fine, the water is fine, but when you do your own research … it’s absolutely terrifying.”