On April 25, 2015, a massive earthquake hit Nepal.
A strong earthquake initially reported as anything from 7.5 to 7.9 struck Nepal 06:11:25.80 UTC today, April 25. Tremors were felts in parts of India, in the city of Delhi and in Malaysia and Bangladesh.
According to the US Geological Survey the quake struck an area in central Nepal between the capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara; its power was quickly adjusted to 7.9.
All too soon the extent of the devastation became clear.
As we reported at the time "Early reports of two deaths were quickly forgotten as the death toll started to climb. By noon Saturday UK time Russia Today was reporting at least 400 dead, a couple of hours later the death toll was estimated as at least 785 and hours later 1,300. Wednesday the death toll is now more than 5,000 and the huge human tragedy continues to unfold. 5,238 people were confirmed dead as of Wednesday with another 10,348 injured. Officials in Nepal believe the death toll may ultimately pass 10,000. Scenes from Nepal show devastation, a word which is perhaps overused and hardly seems able to describe what is happening."
Our report continued "The landmark Dharahara tower in Kathmandu, a popular tourist attraction, is now rubble. The Daily Telegraph showed an image of the dust covered head and shoulders of a man trapped in the debris of a fallen building Saturday as rescuers tried to free him.
While some are still being pulled out alive from the rubble of buildings it is now mainly a recovery operation. The number of dead are piling up and late Tuesday some were laid outside of a morgue for identification; but this was also as there is nowhere to store the dead awaiting burial.
At least 8,000 people died.
In 1934 Kathmandu was practically destroyed in an earthquake. The fact that such an event is not unknown in the region is no comfort to those displaced. The last significant earthquake in the area in 2011 killed at least five people but the 2015 earthquake will enter record books for its power and death toll.
Wednesday one British death in Nepal is confirmed; the man had dual nationality and was not resident in the UK. There are unconfirmed reports that another Briton was killed at Everest base-camp."
A couple of weeks after the main event a "Second major quake rocks Nepal". More than 100 people are killed and thousands more injured.
But as the one year anniversary of the massive earthquake passes people in the region have grown tired of waiting for normality to return.
Monday BBC News reports:
"A year after the earthquake and Nepal is still a country of tarpaulins, tents and tin-roofed shacks.
I had imagined rebuilding would have begun, but it is as if the country has been frozen in time.
The streets have been cleared of rubble and the most obviously unstable structures have been brought down, but that is where the so-called "reconstruction effort" stopped.
Virtually none of the 800,000 buildings it is reckoned the quake destroyed have been rebuilt.
The lack of progress is most stark in the countryside. Whole villages are still shattered and broken."
You can read the full BBC report here-it is rather grim
April 15 is one of those days that are significant in history. On a personal level it is the day this writer's late father, and brother, was born. As a child there were often reminders of this day in history due to the loss of the Titanic. In 50s Britain that was still remembered as a huge tragedy. More recently the Hillsborough football disaster marred this date and then there were the 2013 Boston marathon bombings.
The sinking of the Titanic
Perhaps the Titanic should never have been deemed unsinkable. In doing so the huge liner was maybe jinxed. Either way the loss of the Titanic continues to catch the imagination of film producers and enthusiasts. Striking an iceberg late April 14 the sinking was not instant. The death throes of the Titanic and those on board were painfully slow but rescuers arrived too late. They did however manage to save those still alive on board the all too few lifeboats. On April 15, 1912, Titanic went to its watery grave taking at least 1,500 people with her.
When the Liverpool football team and their army of fans descended on Sheffield for a match at the Hillsborough stadium who would have believed the tragedy that would unfold? This writer watched events unfold on T.V. news before finally the plug was pulled on the harrowing viewing. 96 people died, including children, after crowds surged forward crushing the life out of those trapped behind pitch barriers. It was the 25th anniversary of this disaster in 2014 and the families of the dead were still searching for answers. After an apparent police cover up finally new inquests were launched which may at last offer closure?
July 2015 Daily Mirror -Tony Blair 'rejected Hillsborough inquiry as a favour for Rupert Murdoch'
The Boston Marathon Bombings
On April 15, 2013, it was Patriots' Day in the U.S.A. Patriots' Day commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Wikipedia reports "Since 1969, the holiday has been observed on the third Monday in April, providing a three-day long weekend, as well as being the first day of public school vacation week in Maine and Massachusetts". In 2013 the day was marred by a terrorist bomb attack which left three people dead, including a young boy, and more than 260 injured. Many of those injured sustained terrible injuries and 16 people lost limbs. Two young men were believed to be responsible for the attack. One Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in the police manhunt for the bombers.
The other, his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was apprehended after a manhunt. The judge at his trial quoted works by Shakespeare and Verdi as he formally imposed the death sentence -- a decision already made by a federal jury.
As with all days in history there are a range of other notable events on April 15 which include: 1945, British troops entered the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen after negotiating a truce with the German commandant and 1986 the United States bombed Tripoli in retaliation for Libyan terrorist attacks on American targets. But it seems that April 15 will forever be remembered as a day in infamy and will be one of those days that continue to be remembered.
Titanic: 40 fascinating facts
Op-ed: Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of Dublin as part of an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising also known as the Easter Rebellion; a rebellion which was an attempt to remove British rule in Ireland.
The Easter Rising is remembered each year in a series of events in Ireland but this year it is special; 100 years have passed.
The crowds were in Dublin to watch a military parade which is the culmination of a series of centenary commemoration events in the Republic of Ireland.
The Easter rebellion used English involvement in World War One to advantage. As so many British military personnel were fighting in Europe it was in some ways the perfect time to try for independence.
But it was an armed insurrection and as a result fourteen leaders of the Easter rising were executed by the British.
A free Irish state however followed.
"The state was created as the Irish Free State in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It had the status of dominion until 1937 when a new constitution was adopted, in which the state was named "Ireland" and effectively became a republic, with an elected non-executive president as head of state. It was officially declared a republic in 1949, following the Republic of Ireland Act 1948" Wikipedia.
The Republic of Ireland accounts for more than two thirds of the land mass of Ireland.
There have been appalling acts in Ireland's troubled history from all sides and the English got it wrong so many times.
Ireland has had a troubled past and ripples still surface from time to time in Northern Ireland.
Again there is the age old question of when is a terrorist a terrorist and when is he a freedom fighter.
In the 21st Century that question remains unanswered.
Some would say it depends who has what to gain from the outcome.
Religious differences continue to play their part in Northern Ireland.
Each year Orange Parades, protestant, remember long dead events and people from Northern Ireland's troubled history.
Today it is about the Catholics of Ireland; some in Northern Ireland still yearn for full freedom from we British.
Two separate Christian factions ironically resemble two sections of Islam, Sunni and Shia Muslims.
But today is a day about peace.
We can remember our past failings and show respect to those who died in very different times; or were they so very different?
This English person wishes the people of Ireland well and hopes peace in that country lasts.
Peaceful independence or peaceful co-existence has to be better than turmoil and conflict.
As Wikipedia notes many of the Easter rising deaths were a result of the British military's response and reactions to the rising:
The Easter Rising (Irish: Éirí Amach na Cásca) also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in World War I. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798.
Mass shootings in the UK are a rare event but one horrific incident in 1996 highlights that Britain has experienced an evil multiple murder and the victims were attending a primary school.
The UK experienced mass killings at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996.
Fifteen children aged between 5 and 6 died in a classroom along with their teacher. Eleven children and three adults sustained physical injuries and were taken to hospital.
One of the children was pronounced dead on arrival.
The shooter let his weapons rip around the school before killing himself with a single bullet. If it had not been for other members of staff managing to hide children before the killer Thomas Hamilton reached them the death toll would have been much higher.
As in the Sandy Hook school mass murders of 2012 in Connecticut, in the USA, there were many stories of brave actions; most actions bravely carried out in an attempt to protect the children.
44-year-old Thomas Hamilton the killer in Dunblane was armed to the teeth with legally held weapons.
Wikipedia carries some information which may explain how this misguided, suspect and strange man came to vent his wrath on small, young children.
Some documents relating to the case were put under a closure order. The reasons given were that it was to protect the children but many people believe it was part of a cover-up.
There were widespread reports that Hamilton had been accused of abusing children but that these had never been followed through by the police.
The UK has sadly experienced mass killings since, most recently via Derrick Bird who went on a shooting spree in Cumbria.
They have been rare occurrences in the UK.
Bird also legally held weapons.
Lessons have been learned in the UK about regulations regarding gun control.
After Dunblane there were petitions and an inquiry which made recommendations about gun ownership and these were followed through.
That does not mean it could not happen again in the UK but hopefully it will not. The chances are slim. Reading again about Dunblane it is easy to feel that the children and their families were let down by the law of the land.
Over in the USA President Obama has struggled to implement any real change in gun ownership laws, blocked almost every step of the way by the Republican (Conservative) party and some citizens who still quote a centuries old constitutional 'right to bear arms'
Lessons have been learned regarding UK gun laws. Yes some people will still illegally access them via the Internet or criminal actions, but weapons are not a regular feature in ordinary people's homes and long may that continue.
[Ahead of the 20-year anniversary UK TV news channels have shown reports from survivors and relatives of those who died. The invisible scars are still visible]
Op-d: A year on from the murder of Boris Nemtsov protesters marched in Russia.
On February 27, 2015, Boris Nemtsov, 55, was shot dead by an unknown person or persons and on February 27, 2016, protesters marched in a show of solidarity.
A planned rally on March 1, 2015, in Russia scheduled to be a protest against Putin and the powers that be in that country turned into a march to commemorate Nemtsov. His death came after he had appealed for protesters to join a march against Russia's involvement in Ukraine.
Nemtsov was deputy prime minister of the country under President Boris Yeltsin and opposed Putin and his government. He was to lead the 2015 protest which instead became a memorial to him.
He had reportedly previously received death threats.
The 2015 protest rally went ahead to commemorate Nemtsov with Russian officials granting permission for up to 50,000 to take part.
Nemtsov was in the vicinity of the Kremlin when he was killed by four shots in his back.
He and his Ukrainian girlfriend, model Anna Duritskaya, had just left a restaurant and were heading for his apartment when gunmen struck.
Mr Nemtsov was shot on a bridge around 23:40 (20:40 GMT) within sight of St Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin.
The spot where he died has been made into a 'shrine' to commemorate the man and his murder. It has been vandalised and flowers removed many times so now a handful of supporters keep watch 24/7/
Fox News said "According to the BBC, footage airing on Russian television showed a white Lada Priora car in the area; still, there is no clear signal the vehicle was involved in Nemtsov’s murder. One part of the film shows someone running in the road alongside the Great Moskvoretsky Bridge and jumping into the waiting car, which then sped off."
The precise whereabouts of Duritskaya were not known and or the identity of who killed him or ordered his killing.
The killing was quickly condemned by US President Barack Obama. The finger of blame has been pointing at Putin and the Kremlin, an easy and obvious target.
Putin however has also condemned the killing vowing to catch the perpetrators.
Who killed Nemtsov will be a given in some people's minds but we should not easily or readily dismiss the idea of foreign interference.
It is quite possible Putin or the Kremlin or both were behind the murder but it is just as possible they were not.
Accusations that the opposition killed Nemtsov to make him a martyr seem too far-fetched but who knows in these volatile times.
Does Anna Duritskaya know who was responsible?
Voice of America reported "Putin, meanwhile, has pledged to find and prosecute those responsible for the murder of his prominent critic. "Everything will be done to give the organizers and executors of this base and cynical murder the punishment they deserve," he promised in a note of condolence to Nemtsov's mother, Dina Eidman.
Perhaps this murder was simply a Kremlin ordered assassination or perhaps it was something else.
Time may or may not tell.
It did not take long for arrests to be made. Five men were arrested and in January 2016 the Daily Telegraph reported "Russian investigators have completed their dossiers of evidence against five men accused of murdering Boris Nemtsov, but have yet to identify who commissioned the contract killing or the motive for the assassination."
Saturday BBC News reports "investigators have identified the driver of an interior ministry battalion deputy commander as the supposed mastermind of the murder - but he has vanished without trace."
With allegations of witness statements acquired under torture the trial that will follow may fail to deliver justice.
Nemtsov: Kremlin-Watchers Find Eerie Parallel In An 80-Year-Old Murder
On February 12, 1993, a young child, James Bulger, was lost in every sense to his mother and family.
James Patrick Bulger was born on March 16, 1990. He was 'snatched' by two 10-year-old boys whilst shopping with his mother, in the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, Liverpool, England, on February 12, 1993.
On February 20 John Venables and Robert Thompson, both aged 10 at the time, were charged with the horrific murder of James, a toddler who was almost three-years-old.
Grainy CCTV images of the two 10-year-olds, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, send chilling shivers down the backbone. The boys initially appeared as if they were helping little James to find his mother but in truth they were leading him on a long, harrowing journey that would end in his death.
In February 1993 people in the UK read details of the shocking murder of two-year-old James. Revelations of the details of his horrific murder, by two children, sent shock-waves around the world.
The terrible details of how James was attacked, humiliated, made to suffer and then murdered are grim. The details need handling with sensitivity but they do need noting.
As SkyNews reported in 2015, "They took him to a railway embankment in Walton, Liverpool, where they tortured him, inflicting 42 injuries before leaving him dead on the tracks where a train severed his body". There were reports of a 'sexual element' to this murder but that was never proven.
Prior to his death the little boy was walked, dragged or marched a long distance, especially for a child so young. According to Wikipedia it was a meandering 2.5-mile (4.0 km) walk across Liverpool to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, where he was dropped on his head and suffered injuries to his face.
At least 38 people witnessed the children's journey, yet no person intervened.
Some just accepted the soon-to-be-killers version of events that James was their young brother and they were taking him home.
It highlights how we should never be afraid to challenge, interfere or call it what you will; your actions could save a life.
James was killed on February 12, 1993, but his body was not located for two-days.
The killers had stolen various items from shops before they took James. Their original plan was to abduct a child and lead him 'to the busy road alongside the mall'. They would then push the child into the path of oncoming traffic. CCTV footage of the boys lurking in the shopping centre, before coming across James, is chilling.
The boy's mother momentarily lost sight of her young son and he was gone."
Both Venables and Thompson were released from prison some time ago. Both of the young killers served just eight years before they were released back into the community. Both were given new identities but Venables has struggled to meet the terms of his release.
Venables was first given a new identity when he and Thompson were sent to a young offenders' institution and a second new identity was created for him when he was released in 2001; he was given a third identity after he was sent back to jail in 2010 for possessing child abuse images.
The authorities ignored the pleas of James' mother Denise Fergus to keep Venables in prison this time and he was released in 2013.
Reports that under his new fake identity he was allowed to join dating sites angered campaigners and especially the parents of James.
Venables is out on licence which includes strict rules. His parole is a life-long sentence meaning if he breaks the rules he could be jailed once and for all.
Little is reported of Robert Thompson who also has a new life.
[Thoughts with the family at this sad anniversary - RIP James]
Each year in January and February in Kingston-upon-Hull bereaved families from the long-gone fishing industry of the city remember those lost at sea in what was a particularly bad year, 1968, for the local trawler fishing community.
58 men died, and one person survived when three fishing trawlers sailing out of the port of Hull in January 1968 sank.
The three vessels sank within a few weeks or days of each other and highlighted the tough and sometimes brutal conditions these fishermen endured to earn a living and supply the country with fish to eat.
Changes and improvements to working conditions finally arrived but the industry was already on its knees and the British trawler industry never recovered.
The Hull vessels lost in 1968 were:
The FV Gaul is perhaps the most famous Hull vessel lost.
Constructed in 1972 the Gaul sailed out of Hull on the morning of January 22, 1974, with 36 crew on board, and sailed into a list of conspiracy theories and mysteries.
On February 8, 1974, sea conditions were dire and reports from other vessels said waves were reaching a height of between 6.5 and 9m, the wind was blowing between 7 and 10 on the Beaufort scale.
They and the Gaul were in icy cold fishing waters off Norway.
"The Gaul reported to British United Trawlers that she was "laid and dodging off the North Cape Bank" and was in touch one more but something went wrong.
The other British vessels fishing in the area were safe but the Gaul was lost and in spite of several false flags down the years and many conspiracy theories its loss remains a mystery.
In 2013 the mystery of the Gaul looked likely to be solved but it was not. We asked "Will DNA testing on bodies washed up in Russia link back to the Gaul" but the answer was no.
Theories include claims that the Gaul was a spy ship, was scuppered by the crew, was an insurance job, that the crew lived on but abroad all flourished but the mystery remains unsolved and a painful one for the loved ones of the crew.
Locally most people know at least one person, closely or indirectly that was lost at sea. My late grandfather died in 1941 on a merchant navy vessel that was sunk by a German U boat.
My late father-in-law worked on Icelandic fishing trawlers that sailed out of Hull until around 1962 when a winch slipped on board while working off Iceland and severed all the fingers of one of his hands
Hull has or should that be had a proud tradition and history as seafarers.
Each year a memorial service is held locally.
No trace of the Gaul has ever been found.
As a child news of missing trawlers was nothing unusual. With no direct links to the seamen back then it was just 'the news'.
To people like my in-laws it was hold-your-breath-news.
May they all rest in peace
Telegraph - Gaul trawler sunk by wave not submarine
The Gaul Blogspot
[The video below asks do the British government have something to hide?]
Whether you support Charlie Hebdos view of free speech with no boundaries or not is not the issue. The issue remains the right for people in the western world to go about their daily life without the threat of a terrorist attack.
Since last January we in the west have had to get used to an increased terror threat. On a Tunisian beach in June, 2013, 38 people were mercilessly gunned down as they enjoyed a vacation; 30 of the 38 were British.
It was a lone gunman attack but the perpetrator appeared to have links to a wider terror organisation.
In November 130 people were killed in multiple terror attacks in Paris France; 89 at the Bataclan theatre where fans were watching an American rock band. Shooting was also reported at Le Carillon restaurant which is located in Paris in an area close to the Charlie Hebdo offices; reports of bombs and shooting elsewhere in Paris followed.
California rock band Eagles of Death Metal was playing to a packed house at Le Bataclan concert hall when gunmen stormed in gunning down members of the audience prior to a hostage situation.
In California USA on December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino; the perpetrators were a man and woman and the attack involved a mass shooting and attempted bombing.
But those attacks are just the tip of the iceberg.
There have been many more attacks not least in Africa and the Middle East where hundreds if not thousands of people have been killed or brutalised by terrorists.
In May 2014 "276 Nigerian girls were still missing after being kidnapped by terrorists."
Today as we remember the 'Charlie Hebdo' victims we should say a prayer for all those who have succumbed to any death cult or terror group that classes life on this planet as worth squandering.
The Charlie Hebdo attacks as they happened
Breaking news reports said gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, a French satirical weekly publication, killing 10. Earlier the publications cartoonist Renaud Luzier said: ‘I think there are casualties.’
At time of writing 11 people were confirmed dead and five critically wounded but the death toll quickly rose to 12. Among the dead are the publication's editor, two police officers and renowned cartoonists.
The situation remains fluid and the terrorists, believed to be three, at large after escaping the scene in two vehicles. Police are looking for two brothers in the Paris region and another man in the north-eastern city of Reims. A government source said the two brothers are 32 and 34 years of age and the third suspect is 18 years old.
Masked gunmen with automatic weapons stormed the building shortly after a tweet by staff Wednesday morning. Minutes before the attack Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the leader of the terror organisation Daesh giving his New Year's wishes.
Charlie Hebdo has been threatened in the past following satirical posts including the Prophet.
In 2011 the office were firebombed after a spoof issue featured a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover. The publication posted more controversial images a year later.
The January 7 terror attack is France's deadliest for two decades.
President Hollande's statement via the Guardian
Francois Hollande spoke to the media; he said that 11 people had been killed and four people seriously injured but 40 people had been rescued.
Hollande said that the security level had been increased in Paris and a number of terrorist plots had been foiled in recent weeks.
An emergency meeting will be held at the Elysees Palace in the next hour.
Hollande said France had experienced “an exceptional act of barbarism committed against a newspaper”.
France was facing a “shock”, he added. “We need to show we are a united country,” he said.
France had to be “firm and strong” adding: “We will fight these threats and we will punish the attackers.”
France had been targeted because it was a country of freedom but no one would be allowed to go against “the spirit of the republic” in this way.
[Charlie Hebdo editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, was among the 12 people killed in a terror attack Wednesday, January 7, at the magazine's offices in Paris. On January 9, four hostages were killed when a gunman seized a Jewish grocery store and killed them before police moved in.]
Archived related reports from the days following the
British police apologise for taking names of Charlie Hebdo buyers
Charlie Hebdo suspects dead, France battles hostage situations
Netanyahu unwanted French guest seeks political opportunity
But Hull is planning to include Amy in its year in the spotlight when it becomes the country's City of Culture for 2017.
An Amy Johnson Festival could be one of the city's highlights but maybe not.
Those plans took a battering this week when the Science Museum in London refused an application from Hull Museums to house Johnson's De Haviland Gypsy Moth named Jason.
The plane will stay put in London.
Hull's museums already have displays which include buses from a bygone era, old chemist shops, early ice-cream vans and more; Amy Johnson's plane Jason would be the icing on the cake, even if it was a temporary move.
When Amy died as her plane crashed into the Thames in January 1941 her body was never recovered and the events surrounding her death remain a mystery.
Tuesday the Hull Daily Mail reports there will be "a major month-long festival in Hull later this year celebrating her life and record-breaking flights" but unless the Science Museum has a re-think without her plane.
Local historian Alec Gill who has written a new book about Amy, says;
he is convinced details of her death were deliberately suppressed because they were too shocking for people to know in wartime Britain. "The death of Amy Johnson is shrouded in as much mystery as her childhood origins in Hull's fishing community," he said.
You can read the full mail report here
And find the new Alec Gill book at Amazon here - AMY JOHNSON: Hessle Road Tomboy - Born and Bred, Dread and Fled (HESSLE ROAD: Stories about Hull's Fishing Community and Arctic Trawling Heritage (England) Book 4) [Print Replica] Kindle Edition
Introducing the 'On this Day in History' blog
History is scattered with dates which are etched onto our memories by events that have changed the world; some memorable for happy reasons but all too many that are painful to remember.
The Twin Towers bombing in New York on September 9, 2001, changed modern life in the west for ever. Terrorism has always existed but the acts of terror meted out on that fateful day gave us a glimpse of what was to come.
The following years we have experienced an increase in terrorist atrocities.
The way people view life and freedom after 9/11 has changed and the way that governments operate will never be the same again.
Some dates, such as 9/11 and the day that John F Kennedy was assassinated remain so fresh in our memories that sometimes years later we can clearly remember what we were doing and where we were when the monumental news broke.
For older people Pearl Harbour lives on in their memory forever.
Whether the "on this day in history" was centuries ago, a month earlier or last year it may be long forgotten or as fresh as a daisy but above all worth remembering.
April 15 is one of those days that are significant in history.
On a personal level it is the day this writer's late father, and brother, was born.
As a child there were often reminders of this day in history due to the loss of the Titanic.
Then on April 15, 1945, British troops entered the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen after negotiating a truce with the German commandant.
In 1986 the United States bombed Tripoli in retaliation for Libyan terrorist attacks on American targets and in 1989, at least 93 football supporters were killed in Britain's worst-ever sporting disaster.
All in all a busy day in history.
On this Day in History
The following pages carry notable dates for each month of the year while this blog will carry features for some of those dates: