Today in History: April 26, Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster

Today in History

Today is Wednesday, April 26, the 116th day of 2023. There are 249 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 26, 1986, an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine caused radioactive fallout to begin spewing into the atmosphere. (Dozens of people were killed in the immediate aftermath of the disaster while the long-term death toll from radiation poisoning is believed to number in the thousands.)

On this date:

In 1607, English colonists went ashore at present-day Cape Henry, Virginia, on an expedition to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was surrounded by federal troops near Port Royal, Virginia, and killed.

In 1913, Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old worker at a Georgia pencil factory, was strangled; Leo Frank, the factory superintendent, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. (Frank’s death sentence was commuted, but he was lynched by an anti-Semitic mob in 1915.)

In 1933, Nazi Germany’s infamous secret police, the Gestapo, was created.

In 1964, the African nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.

In 1968, the United States exploded beneath the Nevada desert a 1.3 megaton nuclear device called “Boxcar.”

In 1977, the legendary nightclub Studio 54 had its opening night in New York.

In 1984, bandleader Count Basie, 79, died in Hollywood, Florida.

In 1994, voting began in South Africa’s first all-race elections, resulting in victory for the African National Congress and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president.

In 2000, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.

In 2009, the United States declared a public health emergency as more possible cases of swine flu surfaced from Canada to New Zealand; officials in Mexico City closed everything from concerts to sports matches to churches in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

In 2018, comedian Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. (Cosby was later sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, but Pennsylvania’s highest court threw out the conviction and released him from prison in June 2021, ruling that the prosecutor in the case was bound by his predecessor’s agreement not to charge Cosby.)

Ten years ago: Unable to ignore air travelers’ anger, Congress overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to withdraw furloughs of air traffic controllers caused by budget-wide cuts known as the sequester, ending a week of coast-to-coast flight delays. Fire at a psychiatric hospital near Moscow killed 38 people; only three escaped. Country singer George Jones, 81, died in Nashville.

Five years ago: Mike Pompeo was sworn in as secretary of state, minutes after being confirmed by the Senate; he then flew immediately to Brussels for meetings at NATO headquarters. President Donald Trump’s White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination to be Veterans Affairs secretary in the face of accusations of misconduct. Teachers in Arizona and Colorado converged on state capitols as they launched widespread walkouts in a bid for better pay and education funding. Four quarterbacks were chosen in the first 10 selections in the NFL draft, with the Cleveland Browns grabbing Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma.

One year ago: Russia pounded eastern and southern Ukraine as the U.S. promised to “keep moving heaven and earth” to get Kyiv the weapons it needed to repel the new offensive, despite Moscow’s warnings that such support could trigger a wider war. Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19 but exhibited no symptoms. Harvard University vowed to spend $100 million to research and atone for its “extensive” ties with slavery.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Carol Burnett is 90. R&B singer Maurice Williams is 85. Songwriter-musician Duane Eddy is 85. Rock musician Gary Wright is 80. Actor Nancy Lenehan is 70. Actor Giancarlo Esposito is 65. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) is 63. Actor Joan Chen is 62. Rock musician Chris Mars (The Replacements) is 62. Actor-singer Michael Damian is 61. Actor Jet Li (lee) is 60. Actor-comedian Kevin James is 58. Author and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (TREHTH’-eh-way) is 57. Actor Marianne Jean-Baptiste is 56. Rapper T-Boz (TLC) is 53. Former first lady Melania Trump is 53. Actor Shondrella Avery is 52. Actor Simbi Kali is 52. Country musician Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) is 52. Rock musician Jose Pasillas (Incubus) is 47. Actor Jason Earles is 46. Actor Leonard Earl Howze is 46. Actor Amin Joseph is 46. Actor Tom Welling is 46. Actor Pablo Schreiber is 45. Actor Nyambi Nyambi is 44. Actor Jordana Brewster is 43. Actor Stana Katic is 43. Actor Marnette Patterson is 43. Actor Channing Tatum is 43. Americana/roots singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt is 39. Actor Emily Wickersham is 39. Actor Aaron Meeks is 37. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is 31.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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