Monday 4 January 2010

India's big freeze + Whitehall Palace

Every year in India, hundreds of people die in the summer from extreme heat, but in the winter the cold is a serious hazard, especially for the poor. This winter, up to 100 people have perished, mainly in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh – most of them homeless or old people.

Six years ago, the death toll reached an estimated 150 – with half of the victims in Uttar Pradesh, and the others in Rajasthan and Bihar. In Bihar, the authorities ordered bonfires to be lit to help keep the homeless warm.

On this day….312 years ago, what was once the greatest palace in Europe was burned down. London’s Whitehall Palace covered 23 acres, but it came to grief because a servant left some linen drying by a fire.

The flames got out of control and destroyed almost the whole of the complex apart from the magnificent Banqueting House, outside which Charles I was executed, which can be visited to this day. For the story, see The Disastrous History of London.

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