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A chartered Canadian DC-8 carrying pilgrims home to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia crashed in flames near Jeddah airport and all 261 people aboard were killed. The pilot reported a fire only seven minutes after taking off from the airport. He was trying to return for an emergency landing. “The pilot told air traffic control he had lost command of his plane and that there was a fire and he wished to return to the airport,” the Saudi civil aviation department said. The plane, flight 2120, came down one km short of the runway. “The plane crashed in flames on the ground. All passengers perished.” The Canadian charter airline Nationair said it had leased the plane to Nigeria Airwavs. Airline officials at Jeddah said one of the plane’s four engines caught fire shortly after takeoff. It was the first air crash involving pilgrims to Saudi Arabia since 1979. The plane was carrying 247 pilgrims and a crew of 14.

Other important events

1859 Westminster’s Big Ben rings for the first time in London.

1921 Mongolia gains independence from China.

1936 The Triborough Bridge opens to traffic in New York City.

1950 Pakistan joins the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

1960 Premier Moise Tshombe of Katanga, now part of Congo, proclaims independence.

1962 American scuba-diver Fred Baldasare becomes the first person to swim the English Channel underwater.

1974 More than 6,000 life-sized terra-cotta figures of warriors are unearthed by Chinese archaeologists near the ancient Chinese capital of Xian.

1978 Truck carrying industrial gas explodes and sets fire to campsite on Mediterranean coast in Spain, killing at least 180 people.

1979 Skylab falls to earth after six years in orbit.

1987 Iraq launches attack on an Iranian foothold in southern Iraq’s Majnoon oilfield during Iran-Iraq war.

1993 Military rulers and opposition leaders agree to hold presidential elections in Togo.

1994 Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat heads to Gaza, ending his 12-year exile in Tunisia.

1995 US establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

1997 Fire sweeps through a hotel in the Thai beach resort of Pattaya, killing at least 79 people.

1999 A heat wave and a violent storm converge on central and eastern Europe killing more than a dozen people.

2000 Bashar Al Assad is elected as president of Syria.

2002 South Korean President Kim Dae-jung appoints the country’s first female Prime Minister, Chang Sang.

2003 Bus services restart between Lahore and New Delhi.

2006 Eight bombs hit Mumbai’s commuter rail network during rush hour in the financial hub of India, killing at least 200 people.

2007 Pakistani troops storm Islamabad’s radical Red Mosque. Some 102 people die.

2008 Lebanon’s prime minister Fouad Siniora forms a national unity Cabinet in which Hezbollah and its allies have veto power over government decisions.

2009 Former Canadian boxing champion Arturo Gatti is found dead in a Brazilian hotel room.

2010 Bomb attacks rip through crowds watching the World Cup final in Kampala, Uganda, killing 74 people.

2011 128 are feared dead when a tourist boat sinks in the Volga River in Russia.

2012 Virgin Galactic announces “LauncherOne”, a new air-launched rocket specifically designed to deliver small satellites into orbit.

2015 Mexico’s top drug lord Joaquin Guzman escapes for a second time from a maximum-security prison.