Way back when: Today in history
BY GENE CURTIS
Monday, March 04, 2013
3/04/13 at 2:33 AM
1977 - Quake kills 1,500
More than 1,500 people were killed by a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that shook buildings from Rome to Moscow and nearly destroyed Bucharest, the capital of Romania. No damage was reported from other countries where people felt the quake. Although the greatest loss of life was in Bucharest there was wide-spread damage in south central Romania. More than 11,000 people were injured.
2002 - Swiss vote to join U.N.
A proposal to join the United Nations was approved by Swiss voters in a referendum that had the highest turnout in a decade with 58 percent participating. Fifty-five percent of voters supported it. Switzerland, formally neutral for nearly 200 years, became the 190th member of the U.N. The Swiss had practiced forms of neutrality on and off since the 13th century, a principle laid down formally in the 1815 Treaty of Paris that ended the Napoleonic Wars. In that pact, European powers guaranteed the "perpetual neutrality" of Switzerland and the Swiss made it part of their 1848 constitution.
2009 - Sudan leader charged
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, charged President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Al-Bashir's government retaliated by expelling 10 humanitarian groups from Darfur and seizing their assets, a U.N. spokeswoman told The Associated Press. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the United States supported the court's action "to hold accountable those who are responsible for the heinous crimes in Darfur." Up to 300,000 people had died and 2.7 million had fled their homes in the region. Al-Bashir refused to deal with the court, and there was no international mechanism to arrest him.
2012 - Congo blasts kill 200
An arms depot near Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, and Kinshasa, the capital of the larger Central African nation of Congo, exploded, causing houses and buildings to collapse. More than 200 were killed. The Associated Press said the first blast went off about 8 a.m. and smaller blasts occurred throughout the morning. Defense Minister Charles Zacharie Boawo appeared on television to urge calm. "The explosions that you have heard don't mean there is a war or a coup d'etat," he said. "Nor does it mean there was a mutiny. It is an incident caused by a fire at the munitions depot."
A statue of the Virgin Mary was all that remained of a Catholic church after a series of explosions at a munitions depot in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. AP file