On this day: Chernobyl disaster | The Great Plague

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 26 April

In 1986 a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, near Kiev, caught fire. Picture: Getty

According to tradition, the waters of the Flood abated and Noah’s Ark came to rest on this date.

1607: Captain John Smith landed at Cape Henry, Virginia, with first group of colonists who would establish permanent English settlement in America.

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1665: The Great Plague of London began.

1709: General Assembly Act for erecting public libraries in presbyteries.

1872: Civil war broke out in Spain.

1921: Motorcycle police patrols went on duty for the first time in Britain.

1923: The marriage of Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon to the Duke of York took place at Westminster Abbey, the first Royal wedding there since 1383.

1928: Madame Tussaud’s waxworks reopened in Marylebone Road, London, after fire destroyed its previous Baker Street premises.

1937: Guernica, in the Basque country, was largely destroyed by German bombers supporting the nationalists during the Spanish Civil War.

1939: Government Bill paved way for conscription of men aged 20-21 for Second World War.

1942: 1,572 miners were killed at Honkeiko Colliery, China.

1942: US destroyer Hobsob and aircraft carrier Wasp collided in Atlantic, with loss of 176 lives.

1957: The BBC television series, The Sky At Night, presented by Patrick Moore, was first screened.

1962: First international satellite, Ariel I, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida – a United States-British venture.

1964: The republic of Tanzania was formed by the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, with Julius Nyerere as its first president.

1966: Sidewinder missile, launched by United States jet plane, shot down first Communist MIG-21 of Vietnam War.

1986: The Chernobyl disaster occurred when a nuclear reactor near Kiev, in USSR, caught fire. But it was four days later, when high radiation levels were discovered in Scandinavia, that the deadly seriousness of the leakage was realised.

1989: Chinese students planned march to central Beijing to protest against government statements condemning their campaign for democracy.

1990: Leftist Colombian presidential candidate, Carlos Pizarro, was assassinated aboard Colombian airliner. Drug cartel claimed (and later denied) responsibility.

1992: Fourteen years of Soviet-backed rule in Afghanistan ended when the communists formally relinquished power to the Mujahideen rebels.

1994: South Africans went to the polls in the country’s first all-race elections.

1999: TV presenter Jill Dando was shot dead on the doorstep of her home in London.

2002: Robert Steinhäuser infiltrated and killed 17 people at Gutenberg-Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany, before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot.

2005: Under international pressure, Syria withdrew the last of its 14,000 troop military garrison in Lebanon, ending its 29-year military domination of that country.

2010: An armed gang stole thousands of pounds from a Sikh temple in Glasgow after posing as worshippers.


Thomas Welling, actor, 37; Carol Burnett, variety star, 81; 7th Marquess of Bute (Johnny Dumfries), former racing driver, 56; Joan Chen, actress, 53; Ms Dynamite, hip hop singer and rapper, 33; Duane Eddy, guitarist, 76; Jon Lee, pop singer (S Club), 32; Jet Li, actor, 51; Kathleen (Koo) Stark, actress and photographer, 58; Roger Taylor (Duran Duran), 54; Willie Wood MBE, bowler, 76; Channing Tatum, actor, 34; Kevin James, actor, 49; John Isner, American tennis player, 29.


Births: 1452 Leonardo da Vinci, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, scientist and inventor; 1711 David Hume, Edinburgh-born philosopher and economist; 1765 Emma, Lady Hamilton and mistress of Nelson; 1798 Ferdinand Delacroix, artist; 1812 Alfred Krupp, armaments manufacturer; 1868 Viscount Rothermere, newspaper publisher; 1877 Sir Alliot Verdon-Roe, aviation pioneer; 1893 Anita Loos, novelist and playwright; 1894 Rudolph Hess, Nazi leader; 1898 John Grierson, Perth-born documentary maker; 1905 Jean Vigo, film director; 1918 Fanny Blankers-Koen, athlete; 1926 David Coleman OBE, sports commentator.

Deaths: 1865 John Wilkes Booth, actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln; 1970 Gypsy Rose Lee, striptease artist; 1980 Dame Cicely Courtneidge, actress; 1984 William (Count) Basie, jazz pianist and bandleader; 1986 Broderick Crawford, actor; 1989 Dame Daphne du Maurier, novelist; 1989 Lucille Ball, comedienne; 1999 Jill Dando, TV presenter; 2008 Humphrey Lyttelton, jazz trumpeter and broadcaster.