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1996 — Former prime minister Michel Debre, who drafted the constitution of France’s Fifth Republic and was its first prime minister under President Charles de Gaulle, has died at the age of 84. Debre, father of Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre, died at his home in Montlouis-sur-Loire after a long illness. Another of his sons, Bernard Debre, is a member of the French National Assembly. Debre was a Resistance disciple of de Gaulle’s during the Second World War and a prickly nationalist. Long a supporter of French rule in Algeria, he led the government in a period of bitter civil strife over de Gaulle’s decision to grant the North African colony independence after a long guerrilla war.

Other important events

1824 - Turkey captures island of Psara from the Greeks.

1858 - British Parliament passes the India Bill, which transferred the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown.

1870 - The first tube railway opens in London.

1928 - Italy signs a 20-year treaty of friendship with Ethiopia.

1934 - Germany’s President Paul von Hindenburg dies, and Adolf Hitler assumes the title of Der Fuehrer.

1959 - US military successfully tests heat-seeking missiles to be used by infantrymen.

1977 - North Korea creates a ‘military sea boundary’.

1980 - A bomb explodes at the train station in Bologna, Italy, killing 85.

1984 - The three hijackers of an Air France jet surrender at Tehran airport after releasing 45 hostages before an explosion blows a hole in the fuselage of the Boeing 737.

1993 - Serb gunners destroy a vital bridge in Croatia, severing the only land link between the southern Dalmatian coast and the rest of the country.

1997 - The US ends a 20-year ban on the sale of the most advanced weapons to Latin America.

1999 - 226 people die in India when two trains collide at Gaisal, north of Kolkata.

2001 - Former Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic is jailed and becomes the first person convicted of genocide by The Hague war crimes court.

2005 - An Air France A340 jet with 309 people aboard overshoots the runway at Toronto international airport and bursts into flames after plunging into a muddy ravine.

2005 - King Fahd, one of the world’s wealthiest monarchs, is laid to rest in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia.

2007 - An overnight train derails in central Congo after its brakes fail, killing about 100 people.

2009 - The UAE swim team set a new national relay record at the FINA World Championships in Rome, clocking 04:00:37, more than five seconds faster than the previous year’s national record.

2011 - The main link on Africa’s fastest railway opens between Johannesburg and the South African capital Pretoria at speeds up to 160km/h.

2014 - An explosion kills at least 68 people at a factory that makes wheels in Kunshan city, China.