2020 takes the cake for being one of the most unusual years ever. From the outbreak of an unexpected pandemic to a global political standoff between rival countries, it surely has been eventful. People, events, and nature of all sorts made headlines in their own ways, and it was curtains for big names like Tariq Aziz, Amanullah Khan, Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Sean Connery.
Here are some of the biggest highs and lows for the year 2020:
First, the hard part:
Qasem Soleimani Drone Strike
A US drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport killed the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and the Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was mistakenly shot down by Iran’s armed forces shortly after its takeoff from the Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport, killing all 176 people on board.
Nigerian Soldiers Killed
Boko Haram militants assaulted a Nigerien military base at Chinagodrar and killed at least 89 Nigerien soldiers.
Sultan of Oman Dies
The Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, died aged 79. Haitham bin Tariq was sworn in as his successor.
Yemen Civil War
111 Yemeni soldiers and 5 civilians were killed in a drone and missile attack on a military camp near Ma’rib.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the disease as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, making it the sixth time that this measure has been taken since 2009.
Riots in Delhi, India, led to 53 deaths and over 200 injuries. Over 2,000 people were arrested in connection with them.
Stock Market Crash
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) plunged by 1,190.95 points or 4.4 percent to close at 25,766.64 – its largest one-day point decline at the time. This had followed several days of large falls, marking the worst week for the index since 2008 triggered by fears of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Football Take a Hit
The Euro 2020 and 2020 Copa América association football tournaments were postponed until the summer of 2021 by UEFA and CONMEBOL respectively.
Kivu Ebola Epidemic
The Democratic Republic of the Congo reported the first case of Ebola since February 2020. The outbreak killed more than 2,200 people since August 2018.
Trump Weighs In
US President Donald Trump announced that America would suspend funding towards the World Health Organization (WHO) pending an investigation of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China.
Tour de France
The 2020 Tour de France was delayed until August 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Myanmar Continues to Make Headlines
The UN Human Rights Office accused Myanmar of carrying out daily airstrikes in the Rakhine and Chin states that had killed at least 32 civilians since March 23. The separatist Arakan Army unilaterally declared a month-long ceasefire to fight the pandemic, but the military rejected the ceasefire, claiming that a previous ceasefire had been reneged by the insurgents.
Reportedly, 44 suspected Boko Haram members were found dead due to poisoning inside a prison in N’Djamena, Chad.
Iran Kills its Own Soldiers
The Iranian Navy frigate Jamaran accidentally fired a missile at the Iranian support vessel Konarak and killed 19 sailors. This was the first friendly fire incident since February 2019 in which an Indian Mil Mi-17 helicopter was mistakenly shot down by Indian air defense forces.
Gunmen Storm Maternity Hospital
Gunmen stormed a maternity hospital and killed 24 people, including two newborn babies, in Dashte Barchi, a majority-Shia neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan. In a separate incident in Kuz Kunar, 32 people died killed at a funeral in a suicide bomb attack.
Flight PK8303, a Pakistan International Airlines passenger aircraft, crashed into a residential area near Karachi, Pakistan, killing 97 of the 99 people on board and injuring dozens on the ground.
Storm Hits Australia
A ‘once in a decade’ storm battered 3,000 kilometers (1,900 mi) of the coast of Western Australia.
Russian Oil Leak
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tons of oil leaked into the Ambarnaya River near the Siberian city of Norilsk within the Arctic Circle on 26 May. The World Wildlife Fund said the accident is believed to be the second-largest in modern Russian history.
At least 20 Indian soldiers and over 40 members of Chinese forces were either killed or injured in skirmishes in the disputed Galwan Valley in the largest escalation along the Sino-Indian border in five decades.
A landslide at a jade mine in Hpakant, Kachin State, Myanmar, killed at least 174 people.
An explosion caused by poorly stored ammonium nitrate killed over 220 people, injured thousands, and severely damaged the port in Beirut, Lebanon. The cost of the damage was estimated to be $10–15 billion, and around 300,000 people were left homeless. The following day, the Lebanese government declared a two-week state of emergency.
Israel and the UAE agreed to normalize relations, marking the third Israel–Arab peace deal.
Mauritius Oil Spil
The Japanese bulk carrier Wakashio got stranded on a reef in Mauritius last month and broke in half. Approximately 1,000 tonnes of oil spilled into the ocean and caused the largest environmental disaster in the history of Mauritius.
Deadly clashes erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Republic of Artsakh enforced martial law and mobilized their forces.
The impeachment trial of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, began in the US Senate. He was acquitted on 5 February.
NASA’s Arrokoth Study
NASA published a detailed study of Arrokoth – the most distant body ever explored by a spacecraft – that New Horizons passed by on its journey through the Kuiper belt.
A conditional peace agreement was signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on 10 March that led the US to gradually withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
WHO Looks to Find COVID-19’s Cure
Solidarity Trial, a WHO-sponsored group dedicated to finding a cure against COVID-19, was announced by the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom.
The Saudi-led coalition declared a unilateral ceasefire in its operations against the Houthi forces in Yemen in accordance with UN-led efforts.
King Salman’s Royal Decree
King Salman issued a royal decree declaring that people will no longer be executed in Saudi Arabia for crimes they had been convicted of as minors.
A team of British and Kenyan scientists announced the discovery of Microsporidia MB – a parasitic microbe in the Microsporidia fungi group that blocks mosquitos from carrying malaria – potentially paving the way for the control of malaria.
Black Hole Visibility
Astronomers announced the discovery of the first black hole visible to the naked eye located in a star system.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly touched down on Bennu and became the agency’s first probe to retrieve samples from an asteroid, with its cargo due to return to Earth in 2023.
World’s Largest Free-Trade Bloc
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed by 15 Asia-Pacific countries to form the world’s largest free-trade bloc, covering a third of the world’s population.
Mount Everest’s Height
Nepal and China officially agreed on Mount Everest’s actual height – 8,848.86m.
The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurred, separated in the sky by 0.1 degrees. This was the closest conjunction between the two planets since 1623.
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