10 years of a new millennium


From the chaos of the 9/11 terror attacks to the triumph of the Fifa World Cup, it’s been a decade of tumultuous events.

9/11 terrorist attacks (11 September 2001)

When the first airplane crashed into one of New York’s World Trade Centre’s twin towers it was instantly deemed a terrible aviation accident. About 10 minutes later another hijacked craft slammed into the second tower and it became obvious a terror attack was under way.

That morning 19 Al-Qaeda members hijacked four commercial jetliners, two of which were used for the attack on the twin towers. The third crashed into the Pentagon in Virginia and the fourth crashed short of its target in Pennsylvania. There were no survivors.

The attacks sparked America’s invasion of Afghanistan and the hunt for Al-Qaeda’s leader, ­Osama Bin Laden, as well as the later invasion of Iraq.

Indonesian Tsunami (26 December 2004)

Boxing Day 2004 will go down as one of the deadliest days of the decade. A powerful undersea earthquake measuring between 9,1 and 9,3 on the Richter scale struck off the west coast of Sumatra.

The quake kicked up oceanic waves more than 30 metres high and sent them hurtling towards Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand at speeds in excess of 80 km/h. The giant waves killed about 230 000 people and the earthquake will be remembered as the fifth most deadly seismic event in recorded history.

It’s also regarded as one of the longest seismic events in living memory, lasting almost 10 minutes.

Hurricane Katrina (23-29 August 2005)

Described as the most expensive natural disaster to date, Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1 800 people and caused damage estimated at $81 billion (about R560 billion).

The category one hurricane was the fifth most powerful to hit the United States. It formed over the Bahamas on 23 August 2005 and struck the American coast six days later.

Seawater surged almost 20 km inland, flooding coastal and river towns over a wide area and New Orleans was by far the worst hit.

The Great Recession (2007-2009)

In September 2008 a financial crisis that led to the collapse of American investment banking giant Lehman Brothers began to spread worldwide. The effects of the crisis are still felt today. Years of reckless lending practices and consumers’ heavy

levels of debt developed into an international recession.

Large-scale defaults on payments caused the collapse of other banks and companies. Companies’ share prices dropped and it suddenly became very difficult to borrow money to do business. Various governments had to provide aid and stimulus packages worth billions to keep their economies afloat.

Widespread unemployment resulted and experts expressed fears the recession could become the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

By the end of last year economists felt the worst was over but serious national debt, especially in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, and other economic factors indicated there might be potholes in the road to recovery.

Read more about the past decade in YOU, 30 December 2010.

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