Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Sumatra search called off + Great Fire of Newcastle

Officials in the Sumatran city of Padang have called off the search for survivors from last week’s earthquake, as hopes have run out of finding anyone else alive. At least 1,000 people have died, and 1,000 more are still missing.

The urgent task now is to feed the survivors, provide clean water and clear away decomposing bodies. Already children are returning to makeshift schools, and businesses are re-opening, but the island’s infrastructure has taken a terrible blow, with more than 180,000 buildings destroyed or badly damaged.

On this day…..155 years ago a fierce fire devastated Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead. The first flames were seen in a mill on the Gateshead side of the river, and they spread rapidly and overwhelmed the efforts of firemen.

With lots of highly inflammable goods in warehouses along the Tyne, the blaze had plenty to feed on, and by the time it had been put out, 53 people had been killed. For the story, see A Disastrous History of Britain.

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