Year
2015

Magnitude 7.8 earthquake kills thousands in Nepal

On April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake tore through Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 and injuring 16,800. It was the worst such earthquake for the Asian country since 1934.

The earthquake struck shortly before noon, but the devastation continued as several dozen aftershocks caused even more destruction. Overall, Nepal was shaken by hundreds of aftershocks, the largest striking at a 7.3 magnitude on May 12. The quake also induced an avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 19 people.

By the time the tremors stopped, more than 800,000 homes were destroyed and more than 298,000 were damaged. The quake also damaged several iconic monuments, like the capital’s Durbar Square. In all, 2.8 million people were displaced, made homeless by the devastation—or by their fear of more tremors. Of these, countless numbers moved into “tent cities,” too afraid to return to their homes. The United Nations estimated 8 million people in total—nearly a third of Nepal’s population—were affected by the quake and its aftershocks.

The Nepalese government declared a state of emergency right after the initial shocks hit, and virtually the entire army took to the streets in a search-and-rescue operation. Dozens of countries, and the United Nations, pitched in with aid and fundraising.

Unfortunately, repair efforts met with many obstacles along the way. Congestion, along with lack of transportation such as trucks and helicopters, made reaching remote villages very challenging. Political squabbles and a lack of supplies slowed rebuilding efforts as well. By 2017, only 5 percent of homes had been rebuilt and only 12 percent of recovery funds raised had been distributed. Recovery and rebuilding still continues, slowly, today.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Flint water crisis begins

On April 25, 2014 officials from Flint, Michigan switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure for the struggling city. In doing so, they unwittingly introduced lead-poisoned water into homes, in what would become a massive public-health crisis.The ...read more

Space telescope in orbit

The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Space Telescope, a long-term space-based observatory, into a low orbit around Earth.The space telescope, conceived in the 1940s, designed in the 1970s, and built in the 1980s, was designed to give astronomers an ...read more

Ground broken for Suez Canal

At Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, an artificial waterway intended to stretch 101 miles across the isthmus of Suez and connect the Mediterranean and the Red seas. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who organized the colossal undertaking, delivered ...read more

Andropov writes to U.S. student

On this day in 1983, the Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader from Manchester, Maine, inviting her to visit his country. Andropov’s letter came in response to a note Smith had sent him in December 1982, ...read more

Maple Leafs win third Stanley Cup in a row

On April 25, 1964, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Detroit Red Wings, 4-0, and win the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup championship, four games to three. The victory marked the Maple Leafs’ third consecutive Stanley Cup victory.On their way to the 1963-1964 Stanley Cup ...read more

A play lionizing Davy Crockett opens

The play The Lion of the West opens in New York City. It was the first of many plays, books, and movies celebrating Davy Crockett.Born in 1786 in Tennessee, Crockett grew up in a poor family that hired him out as a cattle drover at age 12. He eventually settled in middle ...read more

Robinson Crusoe is published

Daniel Defoe’s fictional work The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is published. The book, about a shipwrecked sailor who spends 28 years on a deserted island, is based on the experiences of shipwreck victims and of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who spent ...read more

Ella Fitzgerald is born

On April 25, 1917, jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald is born in Newport News, Virginia.She was called “The First Lady of Song,” an honor whose meaning is captured in a compliment paid to her by the great composer Ira Gershwin: “I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella ...read more

Ginger Rogers dies

On this day in 1995, the actress Ginger Rogers, best known for the 10 films she made with her dance partner Fred Astaire, dies at the age of 83.Born in Missouri, Rogers began taking dance and singing lessons as a toddler. By age five, she was appearing in commercials. At age 15, ...read more

Air tragedy hits Canary Islands

A Dan-Air Boeing 727 carrying British tourists to the Canary Islands crashes and kills all 146 on board on this day in 1980. This terrible crash came just three years after another even deadlier accident at the Canary Islands airport.In 1977, a KLM jumbo jet had collided with a ...read more

A father is exonerated after 21 years

James Richardson walks out of a Florida prison 21 years after being wrongfully convicted of killing his seven children. Special prosecutor Janet Reno agreed to the release after evidence showed that the conviction resulted from misconduct by the prosecutor. In addition, neighbor ...read more

Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the ...read more

Italian Formula One driver dies in crash

On this day in 2001, 44-year-old Italian race car driver Michele Alboreto is killed on a track in Germany during a test drive. Alboreto collected five Grand Prix wins on the Formula One (F1) circuit, where he competed during the 1980s and early 1990s, and also claimed victory at ...read more