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What Happened on May 12

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A massive earthquake rocks China
The magnitude 7.9 quake left some 69,000 people dead, 18,000 missing, and 4.8 million homeless. It was the deadliest earthquake in China since 1976 when the Tangshan earthquake killed over 240,000 people.

Violent clashes follow the killing of four protesters in Jakarta, Indonesia
The riots eventually led to the resignation of President Suharto.

A Spanish priest attempts to assassinate Pope John Paul II
Juan María Fernández y Krohn opposed the reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council and believed that the Pope was a Communist agent. John Paul II escaped with minor injuries.

The world’s first programmable, fully automatic computer is presented
The Z3 was designed by German inventor, Konrad Zuse. The original machine was destroyed in an air raid. A replica can be seen at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

  • 1946 Daniel Libeskind
    American architect, designed the Imperial War Museum North, Jewish Museum
  • 1928 Burt Bacharach
    American pianist, composer, producer
  • 1921 Joseph Beuys
    German sculptor, illustrator
  • 1907 Katharine Hepburn
    American actress, singer
  • 1820 Florence Nightingale
    Italian/English nurse
  • 2008 Robert Rauschenberg
    American painter, illustrator
  • 2001 Perry Como
    American singer, actor
  • 1884 Bedřich Smetana
    Czech composer
  • 1860 Charles Barry
    English architect, designed the Upper Brook Street Chapel, Halifax Town Hall
  • 1003 Pope Sylvester II
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