On this day in history, August 26

South Africa’s star swimmer, Penny Heyns, beats the 200m breaststroke world record for the sixth time in three weeks. Picture: File

South Africa’s star swimmer, Penny Heyns, beats the 200m breaststroke world record for the sixth time in three weeks. Picture: File

Published Aug 26, 2023


Some of the more interesting things that happened on this day.

1789 The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is approved by France.

1883 Indonesia’s Krakatoa volcano blows itself apart, destroying the northern two-thirds of the island and creating a series of tsunamis that kill more than 36 000 people. The blast is heard in Perth, Australia, 4 500km away. The energy released from the explosion has been estimated to be equal to about 200 megatons of TNT, roughly four times as powerful as the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever detonated. Ships as far away as South Africa rocked as tsunamis hit them. The town of Merak was destroyed by a tsunami that was 46 metres high, while the eruption caused a volcanic winter.

It is believed that the red sky shown in Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting ‘The Scream’ is a depiction of the sky over Norway after the eruption of Krakatoa.

1929 The first commercial air service in South Africa is introduced.

1945 Japanese diplomats board the American battleship USS Missouri to formally surrender, marking the end of World War II.

1945 Authorities say 25 000 mice were used in the Manhattan project to determine if radiation would have any ill effects on the workers in atomic bomb plants.

1966 The South African Border War starts with a battle at Omugulugwombashe in what is today northern Namibia, close to the Angolan border.

1970 The liner SA Vaal rescues Johannesburg man Joseph Honeywill, 11 hours after he fell overboard near the Canary Islands.

1978 World champion high jumper Hestrie Cloete is born in Germiston. Famous for her mental focus ritual of spinning her index fingers around each other and leaning sideways before every jump, she won two silver medals at the 2004 Olympics.

1985 Barefoot athlete Zola Budd breaks the world 5 000m record.

1985 The French government denies knowledge of the bombing of the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland, New Zealand. They lied: French government agents carried out the bombing to prevent the ship from confronting French nuclear testing in the Pacific. A Greenpeace photographer died in the bombing. Most of those involved in what happened that night in an Auckland harbour have simply disappeared. It was an instance when a government chose to respond to peaceful protest with deadly force.

1997 Seven years after freeing Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, FW de Klerk, the country’s former president, announces his retirement as the leader of the National Party and from public life.

1999 South Africa’s Penny Heyns beats the world record for the sixth time in three weeks by winning the 200m breaststroke in the Pan-Pacific Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2 minutes, 24.42 seconds.

2006 New Zealand retain the Tri Nations Rugby Series trophy with a 45-26 win over South Africa in Pretoria; All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter lands 4 penalties and 4 conversions.

2013 All 25 000 applicants to the University of Liberia fail the entrance examination. The country is still recovering from a long civil war and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says that the education system needs to be improved.

2015 Two journalists are shot dead on live TV by a former co-worker in Moneta, Virginia.

2019 Indonesian President Joko Widodo proposes moving the country’s sinking and overcrowded capital from Jakarta, formerly Batavia, to the island of Borneo (Kalimantan).

2021 Two bomb blasts at Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, kill at least 60 people, including 12 US soldiers, amid international efforts to evacuate citizens of other countries trapped in Afghanistan.

2022 Britain is threatening human health, marine life and fishing by releasing raw sewage into the English Channel and the North Sea, three French Euro MPs say.