Trucks wait in line as thick black smoke billows from an exhaust exit of the Gotthard tunnel near Airolo, Switzerland. A fire broke out inside the 15 km tunnel after a head-on crash between two trucks. - Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

About 11 people were killed in a head-on crash between two trucks that started a fire in the world’s second-longest road tunnel. The crash in the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland — a main north-south European axis through the Alps — sent drivers fleeing on foot in both directions as dense black smoke filled the tunnel and poured out of ventilation shafts. “It’s not just the two trucks — there were several other vehicles involved in the accident,” Herbert Planzer, spokesman for police in the Uri canton, at the northern end of the tunnel, said. Ticino police said one of the truck drivers was believed to have been killed in the accident, while the other had escaped. The heat and smoke had delayed rescue workers for several hours before they could reach the scene.

Other important events:

1861 The first transcontinental telegraph message is sent as Justice Stephen J. Field of California transmits a telegram to US President Abraham Lincoln.

1882 Dr Robert Koch discovers germ that causes tuberculosis.

1901 Anna Edson Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and live to tell about it.

1916 American car manufacturer Henry Ford begin paying his female employees wages equal to those of men.

1922 Irish Parliament adopts a constitution for an Irish Free State.

1929 Black Thursday’ marks the start of the stock market crash.

1931 The George Washington Bridge connecting New York to New Jersey opens.

1935 Italy invades Ethiopia.

1945 The United Nations is formally established, replacing the League of Nations.

1949 The cornerstone of the United Nations Headquarters is laid in New York City.

1964 Zambia gains independence from Britain.

1968 Iran and Saudi Arabia sign agreement delineating Gulf territorial claims.

1970 Leftist Salvador Allende is elected president of Chile.

1980 Polish government legalises independent labour union Solidarity.

1987 A bomb rips through a Pan-Am airline sales office in Kuwait.

1995 A strong earthquake jolts the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan, killing at least 14 people.

1997 Russia signs a landmark border deal with Lithuania.

2002 Bahrain becomes the second Gulf state to have a directly elected legislature.

2003 British Airways Concorde makes its last commercial flight, landing at Heathrow Airport, London.

2004 A Russian-US crew returns safely to Earth from the international space station.

2005 Three suicide bombers stage a coordinated attack on a Baghdad hotel complex used by foreign journalists, killing at least 20 people,

2007 China launches its first lunar probe.

2009 At least 15 people are killed and many more injured after a passenger trains collide in the Giza, Egypt.

2010 Thirteen people are shot and killed execution-style massacre at a Mexican drug rehabilitation centre near the border city of Tijuana.

2011 The Sharjah Media Centre is inaugurated.

2014 Alan Eustace jumps from the balloon near the top of the stratosphere, falling faster than the speed of sound and breaking the world record set on skydiving.

2015 Maldivian authorities arrest Vice-President Ahmad Adeeb over an alleged plot to assassinate President Abdullah Yameen.