On this day in history, February 2

Rescue teams race against time to dig out hundreds of trapped miners at the Beatrix gold mine in Welkom.

Rescue teams race against time to dig out hundreds of trapped miners at the Beatrix gold mine in Welkom.

Published Feb 2, 2024


More than just dates and boring facts.

1349 At least 200 people a day are being buried in London as a result of the Black Death. Of the city’s 70 000 inhabitants, 30 000 would die from the plague, as would up to 60% of Europe’s population.

1659 The first wine (14ℓ) is pressed at the Cape.

1709 British sailor Alexander Selkirk – the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe – is rescued after being marooned for five years.

1892 Harry Sharpe and Frank Crosby slug it out for the Missouri Lightweight Championship – one of the most brutal and longest boxing matches in modern history. Won by Sharpe, the 77-round bout lasted five hours and five minutes. Both fighters outlasted the referee, who 12 rounds from the end succumbed to exhaustion. Sharpe won the $500 prize, but also got an 11-month jail sentence for violating a prize-fighting code.

1899 The Australian Premiers’ Conference in Melbourne decides to locate Australia’s capital, Canberra, between rivals Sydney and Melbourne.

1925 Dogsleds reach Nome with emergency diphtheria serum after travelling 1 000km, inspiring the annual Iditarod race.

1960 The Moroccan city of Agadir, rebuilt after a 1731 earthquake, is razed to the ground when an earthquake sets off a tsunami and a fire.

1972 Demonstrators raze the British Embassy in Dublin in protest at the shooting dead of 13 people on ‘Bloody Sunday’.

1989 The last Soviet armoured column rolls out of Kabul, ending the USSR’s ill-fated occupation of Afghanistan.

1990 President FW de Klerk promises to free Nelson Mandela and legalises the ANC and 60 other political organisations

2003 An explosion in Lagos, Nigeria, destroys a bank, killing 33 people. Rioting breaks out as hundreds of people fight over cash.

2004 Switzerland’s Roger Federer becomes the No. 1 men’s singles tennis player, a position he will hold for a record 237 weeks, or 4½ years.

2018 All 955 trapped miners are rescued from the Beatrix gold mine in Welkom after two days underground.

2020 Palindrome Day: the date 02022020 reads the same forwards and backwards (the last one like this was on 11 November 1111).

2022 More than one million Afghans have fled the country for Iran since October due to the country's economic crisis in the wake of the US withdrawal and the takeover of the Taliban in 2021.