May 21 in History
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1792 — Volcanic activities on Mount Unzen cause the collapse of the southern flank of the Mayuyama dome near the city of Shimbara on the Japanese island of Kysh, creating a deadly tsunami that kills 14,524 people in Japan’s worst volcanic-related disaster. 1864 — Russia declares an end to the 101-year Russo-Circassian War. The Russian Empire invaded Circassia, a country and historical region in the North Caucasus along the northeast shore of the Black Sea, on July 17 1763.The systematic mass murder, ethnic cleansing and expulsion of 80-97% of the population, around 800,0001,500,000 people, is mourned on May 21 every year as the Circassian Day of Mourning. 1870 — Locomotive “Stadt Luzern” makes the first trial run on Europe’s first rack railway, the Rigi Bahnen on Mount Rigi in Switzerland. It travels from Vitznau to Rigi Staffelhöhe on the 53rd birthday of its inventor, Swiss engineer Niklaus Riggenbach. The line opens exactly a year later. 1904 — The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) is founded in Paris by Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. South Africa joins in 1910. 1927 — Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris in the Spirit of St Louis, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. 1932 — Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. 1937 — A Soviet station, North Pole-1, becomes the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean, some 20km from the North Pole. 1972 — Michelangelo’s Pietà, the revered marble sculpture in St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, is damaged with 15 hammer blows by the mentally disturbed Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth. 1977 — Quinton Fortune, South African footballer (46 internationals, 1996-2005), is born in Cape Town. He spends his professional career (19912010) in Europe: Tottenham Hotspur, Mallorca, Atlético Madrid, Man United and four other clubs. 1991 — Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, 46, is assassinated by a female suicide bomber in a village near Madras. He took office after the assassination of his mother, Indira Gandhi, on October 31 1984 to become the youngest Indian prime minister at age 40 and served until 1989.