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Today In History – April 18 – The Great San Francisco Earthquake

1906: The Great San Francisco Earthquake: At 5:13 a.m., an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, California, killing hundreds of people as it topples numerous buildings. The quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault over a segment about 275 miles long, and shock waves could be felt from southern Oregon down to Los Angeles. More here

1909: Joan of Arc is beatified in Rome: Saint Joan of Arc or The Maid of Orléans is considered a national heroine of France and a Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed Divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII. She was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court, and burned at the stake when she was 19 years old. Twenty-five years after the execution, Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr. She was beatified on April 18 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is — along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux — one of the patron saints of France. More here

1930: BBC Radio announces that there is no news on that day: On April 18 1930 The BBC Radio Service from London, somewhat infamously, reports on this day that “There is no news”. More here

1983: Suicide bomber destroys U.S. embassy in Beirut: The U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is almost completely destroyed by a car-bomb explosion that kills 63 people, including the suicide bomber and 17 Americans. The terrorist attack was carried out in protest of the U.S. military presence in Lebanon. More here

1988: The United States launches Operation Praying Mantis: Operation Praying Mantis was an April 18, 1988 attack by U.S. naval forces in retaliation for the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf during the Iran Iraq war and the subsequent damage to an American warship. More here

1989: Chinese students protest against government: Thousands of Chinese students continue to take to the streets in Beijing to protest government policies and issue a call for greater democracy in the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC). The protests grew until the Chinese government ruthlessly suppressed them in June during what came to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. More here

2009: Fifty-year-old Mark Martin wins NASCAR race: On this day in 2009, driver Mark Martin wins the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at the Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, Arizona, and becomes the first 50-year-old to claim victory at a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Sprint Cup race since Morgan Shepherd did so at a race in Atlanta in 1993. Besides Martin and Shepherd, only two other drivers age 50 or older have won Sprint Cup events. More here

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