The Mont Blanc tunnel linking France and Italy re-opens three years after a horrific fire killed 39 people, causing its closure and a reconsideration of security in the Alps’ roadways. Ceremonies marking the tunnel’s opening were simple and sombre, dedicated to the fire’s victims. Tunnel authorities joined relatives of the victims in placing flowers and wreaths at the tunnel’s opening. “Above all, we must not forget the 39 people who died,” said Xavier Chantelot, spokesman for the victims’ families before a ceremony in the middle of the tunnel. Only cars will be allowed through the tunnel and a date for the return of heavy vehicles has not yet been set, with authorities hinting it may be later in the month. Truck traffic will be heavily regulated, tunnel authorities have said, in an attempt to ensure that the 1999 catastrophe will never be repeated. Only 1,100 trucks will be allowed to pass through the tunnel per day, less than half of the level allowed before the tunnel’s closure in 1999.
Other important events:
1822 Charles Graham of New York patents false teeth.
1846 Treaty of Lahore ends first Sikh War in India.
1860 Japan establishes diplomatic relations with the United States.
1916 Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, N.M., killing more than a dozen people.
1919 Britain deports Egyptian independence leader Sa’ad Zaghlul to Malta.
1935 Adolf Hitler announces the creation of a new air force.
1945 US B-29 bombers launch incendiary bomb attacks against Japan during Second World War.
1946 Burnden Park football stadium disaster in Bolton sees 33 people crushed to death.
1953 Soviet leader Joseph Stalin is buried in Moscow.
1969 Lieutenant-General Moneim Riad, chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces, is killed during Israeli-Egyptian gun battle across Suez Canal.
1976 A cable car plunges to the ground near the Italian city of Trento, killing 42 people.
1981 The Kuwait National Assembly opens.
1986 Mario Soares is sworn in as Portugal’s first civilian president in more than half a century.
1989 Eastern Airlines files for bankruptcy.
1991 Massive demonstrations are held against Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade.
1994 The Irish Republican Army launches the first of a series of mortar attacks on Heathrow Airport.
1996 Jorge Sampaio is sworn in as Portugal’s new president.
2003 Thai police say nearly 1,500 people are killed during a nationwide crackdown on methamphetamines.
2004 Pakistan successfully test-fires the Shaheen-II ballistic missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
2005 A morning snack of cassava kills 27 and sickens 100 children at an elementary school in the Philippines.
2006 Anibal Cavaco Silva becomes president of Portugal.
2007 Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf dismisses Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry over serious allegations.
2008 The UAE Government makes Arabic the official language in all federal departments.
2011 Space shuttle Discovery makes final landing after 39 flights.
2013 Hundreds of football fans are gone on a rampage in Cairo, Egypt, after a court acquitted 28 defendants, charged in last year’s deadly rioting.
2014 A suicide bomber detonates an explosives-rigged minibus at a checkpoint in Hilla, Iraq, killing 45 people.
2015 Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Abu Dhabi, beginning its journey around the world.
2016 Beatles producer George Martin dies at the age of 90.