Days the world stood still

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PostFri Dec 04, 2009 12:07 pm » by Abyssdnb

The decade's 'where were you' moments

The noughties proved to be an incredible decade with many key moments that shaped the course of history and changed the world forever.

Moments when the world stood still or simply a day so monumental it will forever be
ingrained in your mind as where you were.
One of the key aspects of the decade was the introduction of mobile phone video and more video recording devices in general. These meant that a great many events that may otherwise have been missed were actually caught on camera. Concorde's crash in 2000 and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami are just two such events.
But what about the other big moments of the last decade? There are hundreds to think of and many will be more memorable depending on where you were when it actually happened. Anyone in Madrid on March 11, 2004, would list the bombings of that day and anyone in Virginia on April 16, 2007 would list the Virginia Tech shooting massacre.
These 12 events are my choice, it is a subjective list, but it is a list that, for me, highlights some of the main events of the last decade. Whether that is because of the actual event, because of the visual impact of the images, because it was something new in my lifetime or simply because it was so huge that I remember where I was on that particular day. I have no doubt that many of you will suggest other events that should be in this list, or question why certain events have been included. I look forward to reading your comments.

Andy Young, MSN News.

Concorde - July 25, 2000
Concorde is an icon of the aviation industry, the supersonic passenger jet that could fly from America to Europe in half the time of other aircraft. It was one of the few planes that could still make people stop in the street and look up when it flew overhead. Concorde was one of those loved aircraft and it was all these factors that made the crash even more striking. That plus the way the tragedy was caught on film, making it so real.

On July 25, 2000 Air France flight 4590 took off from Charles de Gaulle, four minutes earlier a Continental Airlines plane had taken off and a piece of reverse thruster fell from the plane. That titanium strip punctured a tyre on Concorde as it took off. The tyre explosion caused the fuel tank to rupture, the aircraft was unable to gain speed or height and ultimately crashed into the Hotelissimo Hotel in Gonesse. 109 people on board the plane, plus four people on the ground were killed, it was Concorde's first fatal crash.

The crash plus the turndown in the aviation industry following September 11 led to Concorde's withdrawal from commercial service in October 2003, although its last flight was November 26, 2003.

September 11, 2001
At 8.46am on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 the world changed when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Centre's North Tower. Seventeen minutes later the world changed again, when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, with television cameras capturing the horror. At 9.37am American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon and then at 10.03am United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks, the vast majority of these were at or above the impact site of the crashes into the Twin Towers. The South Tower, which was hit second, collapsed first, at 9.59am. The North Tower followed approximately 30 minutes later.

The implications of the attacks are still being felt, America declared its war on terror, with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussain in Iraq being the main targets because of their links to Osama bin Laden and Al-qaeda.

Queen Mother dies - March 30, 2002
On February 6, 1952 King George VI died, his wife, Queen Elizabeth, then became known as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The Queen Mum was consistently one of the most popular members of the royal family and her death on March 30, 2002 brought out a huge period of national mourning.

When she laid in state for three days more than 200,000 people filed past to pay their respects. On the day of her funeral more than one million people gathered outside Westminster Abbey and along the 23-mile route to her final resting place in Windsor Castle. The Queen Mother was 101-years-old at her passing.

Saddam arrested - December 14, 2003
Saddam Hussein became President of Iraq in 1979 and for the next 14 years played a significant part in many of the major incidents in the Middle East. In 1980 he invaded Iran and was involved in a bloody war with that country for the next eight years. In 1990 he invaded Kuwait, which started the Persian Gulf War and as part of the ceasefire from that war Hussein agreed to scrap all poison and germ weapons.

Then in 2002 in his state of the union address, President George W Bush referred to Iraq as part of an axis of evil and accused Saddam of possessing weapons of mass destruction. After a year of debate and build-up a US-led invasion of Iraq started on March 20, 2003. The invasion quickly won through to Baghdad as the Iraqi army crumbled and on April 9, Baghdad fell, but Hussein had escaped capture.

For the next nine months as well as dealing with increased guerrilla activity the US army was searching for Hussein, on December 14 they got their man and Hussein was captured. Photographed with wild hair and a huge beard the images of Hussein looking like he did and being subjected to medical inspection truly illustrated the former President's fall from power. In June 2004 he was handed over to the interim Iraqi government to stand trial, on November 5, Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and on December 30, 2004, he was hanged.

Beslan - September 1, 2004
This was such a horrifying event that I very nearly did not include it in this list. But I remember it very clearly and part of the reason is because of decisions made in the newsroom I was working in at the time; a lot of the reason is that 186 children died and hundreds more were wounded.

On September 1, 2004 a group of armed terrorists stormed a school in the Russian town of Beslan and took over 1,000 people hostage. They were demanding an end to the second Chechen war. The terrorists herded their hostages into the school gymnasium and held them there while negotiations began.

After three days and with negotiations on-going an explosion demolished part of the gymnasium, a fire started and chaos ensued. A gunfight broke out between Russian special forces and the terrorists and ultimately 334 hostages were killed.

Boxing Day Tsunami 2004
On Boxing Day 2004 a huge earthquake occurred under the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia; with a magnitude of 9.3, it was the second largest earthquake recorded on a seismograph (the largest measured 9.5 in Chile in 1960). The earthquake triggered a huge tsunami, which hit coastal communities several hours later with waves of up to 30 feet.

There were no tsunami warning systems in place so many people in those coastal areas were unaware that the tsunami was heading for them. Estimates put the death toll at between 230,000 to 300,000 from 11 countries, although the final figure could be a lot higher. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India were the hardest hit by the tsunami and again the images of the absolute devastation really hit home.

Across the world over £4 billion was donated to help victims of one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.

Pope John Paul II dies - April 2, 2005
The first non-Italian Pope for around 500 years John Paul II was head of the Catholic Church for almost 27 years - the second longest pontificate in history. John Paul II visited well over 100 countries during his pontificate and is credited as being one of the most influential world leaders of the 20th century.

In his later years the Pope's health visibly started to fade and in 2003 the Vatican announced John Paul II was suffering from Parkinson's disease. In February 2005 the Pope was admitted to hospital suffering with breathing difficulties, he was later released from hospital and returned to the Vatican.

On March 31, 2005 John Paul II developed septic shock and suffered a high fever and low blood pressure. Tens of thousands of people gathered in vigil in St Peter's Square and on April 2, John Paul II spoke his final words (in Polish), "Let me go to the house of the Father." He died later that day, just short of his 85th birthday. He was an immensely popular Pope and his death sparked a huge outpouring of grief throughout the world. He was replaced on April 19 by Pope Benedict XVI.

July 7, 2005
At 8.50am on July 7, 2005 three suicide bombers detonated bombs on the London underground, within one minute of each other. The three blasts happened between Liverpool Street and Aldgate, between Edgware Road and Paddington and between Kings Cross St Pancras and Russell Square. Almost one hour later, at 9.47am a fourth suicide bomber detonated his device on the Number 30 bus in Tavistock Square.

The bombings killed 52 people plus the four suicide bombers. It was the largest act of terrorism in the UK since the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. Over 700 people were injured and London's underground services were completely closed, bringing even more chaos to the city.

The bombings were carried out by British Muslim men, who claimed they were motivated by Britain's involvement in the Iraq War.

Two weeks later a second series of four explosions took place on the London Underground and a London bus. Although the detonators on the bombs exploded, none of the main explosive charge detonated and there were no casualties. The four men who carried out the second wave of bombings were later arrested.

Hurricane Katrina - August 29, 2005
On August 23, 2005 a tropical depression formed over the Bahamas, a day later the depression developed into a tropical storm and was given the name Katrina. The storm became a hurricane just before making land over Florida, then the journey over land weakened the storm. But the intensified rapidly as it left Florida behind and headed into the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane soon built up to a category five storm and was one of the strongest and most intense storms ever recorded.

In the early hours of August 29 hurricane Katrina hit land again, by now it had weakened slightly to category three. New Orleans was now the city in the direct path of Katrina and the city's mayor had ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. The main concern for New Orleans was that most of the city was below sea-level and fears were that Katrina's storm surge could top the city's levee system, causing flooding.

Approximately two hours after the storm reached land one of the main levees in New Orleans, the Industrial Canal, was breached sending masses of water in the city. By 9.00am there were reports of six to eight feet of water in the Lower Ninth Ward. In the end 1,836 people were killed by Katrina, but the US government's slow response to help the people of New Orleans drew widespread criticism.

Terror plot foiled - August 10, 2006
On August 10, 2006 Scotland Yard disrupted a plot to blow-up aircraft flying from the UK to America, by using liquid explosives carried on the plane in normal hand luggage. The plot also caused massive disruption to flights from the UK and caused huge delays at airports, in particular Heathrow. The plot was essentially based around different terrorists boarding the same plane, but each carrying a non-threatening component to make up a liquid explosive bomb. Whilst separate these items were fine, but once combined would make a bomb to blow-up the plane whilst flying across the Atlantic.

It is thought the terrorists were hoping to bring down at least 10 aircraft. The plot immediately changed the process of air travel in the 21st century. Restrictions were put on the amount of liquid that a person can take on a plane in their cabin luggage. The sudden imposition of these restrictions added to the chaos and delays at UK airports and it is still catching people out today.

Obama elected - November 4, 2008
On February 10, 2007 Barack Obama, a junior senator from Illinois announced that he would be running for President of the United States of America. On August 27, 2008, after a tough campaign against Hillary Clinton, Obama was officially named as the Democratic Party nominee for the 2008 Presidential election. He was due to go up Republican candidate John McCain, to succeed President Bush in the White House. On November 4, 2008 Obama won the election, his positive campaign of hope and change convinced the American people that more positive times could be in front of them. Obama became the first African American in history to be elected President of the United States. His victory speech took place on November 4, in front of an estimated 240,000 people.

From behind bulletproof glass Obama opened his victory speech: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."
Image "Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it."

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