Zeus, other than being known as king of the gods,
The month of April shall soon be over and not a moment too soon. This month was famously dubbed as “the cruellest month” by poet T.S. Eliot during his 1922 poem, The Waste Land. Eliot’s description couldn’t be more true. Over the past 150 years, April has led the charge in catastrophic disasters. Here are 26 of them (but I bet you can think of a few more):
1. April 14, 1865 – Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln was shot on Good Friday by John Wilkes Booth (five days after Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Army Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant).
2. April 27, 1865 – Explosion of the SS Sultana: On the Mississipi River, nearly 2,000 perished during this explosion. Most of those killed were Union soldiers recently freed from Confederate prisoner camps.
3. April 20, 1889 – Birth of Hitler: This Austrian-born leader of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party and chancellor/Führer of Germany was responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
4. April 18, 1906 – San Francisco earthquake: Still considered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, this quake killed 3,425 people in San Francisco and surrounding areas (including San Jose and Santa Rosa).
5. April 15, 1912 – Sinking of the RMS Titanic: Between 1,490 and 1,635 deaths (including Captain Edward John Smith) occurred when this “unsinkable” luxury ocean liner failed to heed warnings and struck an iceberg.
6. April 20, 1914 – Ludlow Massacre: This massacre took place during a strike of 1,200 coal miners in Ludlow, Colorado. The Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards attacked the miners’ tent colony and killed 19 men, women, and children.
7. April 24, 1915 – Start of the Armenian Genocide: During World War I, this genocide led to the deportation and deaths of around 1,500,000 Armenians (estimates range from 800,000 to 2,000,000 murdered).
8. April 6, 1917 – U.S. enters World War I: The U.S. joined its allies (Russia, France, and Britain), and 2 million U.S. soldiers waged battle in France.
9. April 15, 1927 – Great Mississipi River Flood: This was the most destructive flood in U.S. history with 246 people killed (in 7 states) and over $400 million in damage.
10. April 10, 1942 – Bataan Death March, WWII: After the U.S. surrendered the Bataan Peninsula to the Japanese, around 75,000 million Filipino and American troops were forced to march 65 miles to death camps.
11. April 16, 1947 – Texas city disaster: One of the deadliest industrial accidents in U.S. history resulted in 2300 pounds of ammonium nitrate detonated, which killed 581 people aboard the SS Grandcamp.
12. April 17, 1961 – Bay of Pigs Invasion: The U.S. CIA launched an invasion to overthrow Premiere Fidel Castro. The effort failed when the invading force (1,400 American-trained Cubans) were outnumbered by Castro’s army. Surrender took place within 24 hours.
13. April 4, 1968 – Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The U.S. civil rights leader died at age 39 after a sniper’s bullet struck him on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. This event spawned riots in over 100 U.S. cities.
14. April 11-17, 1970 – Apollo 13: This near-disaster resulted in an aborted lunar mission after an oxygen tank explosion. Apollo 13 was considered a “successful failure” by NASA after all three astronauts returned to Earth safely.
15. April 26, 1986 – Chernobyl disaster: One of the worst nuclear power plant accidents in history went down in the Ukraine. The disaster remains only 1 of 2 classified as a level 7 event (the highest) with 31 people directly killed and an unknown number affected by radiation fallout.
16. April 23, 1987 – L’Ambiance Plaza collapse: In Bridgeport, Connecticut, 28 construction workers died during the construction of a 16-story residential building.
17. April 19, 1989 – USS Iowa turret explosion: During gunnery exercises in the waters around Puerto Rico, 47 U.S. sailors were killed by this explosion.
18. April 19, 1993 – Waco siege: This day signaled the end of a 2-month standoff on the Branch Davidian compound between cult members and agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Agents moved to end the siege with tear gas, and a fire broke out. In the end, around 80 cult members (including leader David Koresh) lost their lives
19. April 6, 1994 – Start of Rwandan Genocide: This was the start of a 100-day genocidal mass slaughter of 20% of the Rwanda population by members of the Hutu ethnic majority. They killed (by some estimates) 800,000 of the Tutsi minority.
20. April 19, 1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: On the second anniversary of the Waco siege, Timothy McVeigh detonated a fertilizer truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The bomb killed 168 people and injured at least 600, which still qualifies it as the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
21. April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School massacre: Two teenagers went on a shooting rampage at their school, killing 13 people and injuring at least 20 others. The gunmen, Eric Harris (18) and Dylan Klebold (17) committed suicide.
22. April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech shooting: During an attack on the Virginia Polytechnic Instatute and State University campus, 23-year-old Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before turning the gun on himself/
23. April 20, 2007 – Johnson Space Center shooting: Engineer Bill Phillips killed another engineer before taking a hostage and then killing himself three hours later.
24. April 20 2010 – Deepwater Horizon Explosion: An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig led to the largest marine oil spill in history. 11 people were killed and another 16 injured.
25. April 15, 2013 – Boston Marathon Bombings: Two bombs, which killed 3 people and injured over 260 more, exploded near the finish line of the marathon. Earlier this month, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty of all 30 counts during his trial.
26. April 17, 2013 – West Fertilizer Company explosion: The explosion at this storage facility killed 15 (including 13 firefighters) and injured 160 more. Over 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed.