Emergency personnel rush victims from the Epitome nightclub in Chicago, early Monday, Feb. 17, 2003. More than 20 people died and dozens were injured as patrons were caught in a stampede trying to leave the club following a small fight. The exit door was locked leaving everyone trapped. (AP Photo/Chicago Tribune, E. Jason Wambsgan) ** NO SALES / NO MAGS / NO INTERNET ** Image Credit: AP

Nightclub stampede kills 21 in Chicago

2003 - Twenty-one people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a Chicago nightclub. The party-goers were crushed and suffocated in a stampede for the club’s only open exit after security personnel used pepper spray to break up a fight. The incident sparked a rush for the front door, with hundreds of people frantically scrambling to get down a staircase from the first-floor dance floor to the nightclub’s ground-floor exit. Witnesses said security staff initially blocked the front exit of the Epitome nightclub on the city’s near South Side, which was packed with a crowd of 1,500 celebrating the holiday weekend. Fire department officials who arrived on the scene found the rear exit padlocked and had to break the chains to release panicked dancers.

February 17

1801 - Thomas Jefferson is elected third President of the US.

1817 - A street in Baltimore becomes the first to be lighted with gas from America’s first gas company.

1882 - First cricket Test match is played between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground.

1938 - John Logie Baird demonstrates an experimental large-screen colour TV at the Dominion Theatre in London.

1947 - The Voice of America begins its radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union.

1958 - Edgar Whitehead becomes Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

1965 - US spacecraft Ranger 8 is launched.

1972 - British Parliament votes to join European Common Market.

1979 - China invades Vietnam, marking the start of the Sino-Vietnamese War.

1989 - Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia sign the founding treaty for the Arab Maghreb Union.

1993 - Passenger ferry Neptune sinks near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

1995 - Peru and Ecuador sign a peace treaty, ending a five-week border war that killed 78.

1997 - Nawaz Sharif is sworn in as Pakistan’s Prime Minister.

1998 - US athletes compete in Iran for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

2001 - The Centre for Alternative Medicine opens at Ajman University of Science and Technology.

2002 - Maoist rebels kill 137 people in raids on a town and an airport in the northwest of Nepal.

2007 - A suicide bomber blows himself up inside a court in Quetta, Pakistan, killing at least 15 people, including a senior judge.

2008 - Kosovo declares independence from Serbia.

2009 - Famous Arab novelist Tayeb Salih dies in London at 80.

2013 - Country music star Mindy McCready is found dead at her home in Arkansas.

2014 - A co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines plane flying from Addis Ababa to Rome hijacks it to Geneva in asylum bid.

2016 - Prominent Egyptian journalist and political commentator Mohammad Haykal dies at the age of 92.