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The biggest explosions in history

23 March 2019

9:00 AM

23 March 2019

9:00 AM

The march of time

If we leave the EU on 29 March, with which historic events will that date be shared?
845 A Norse fleet sailing up the Seine reached Paris, sacking the city and extracting a ransom from Charles the Bald.
1461 The Battle of Towton, just south of Tadcaster, one of the bloodiest battles fought on English soil, with more than 20,000 men estimated to have been killed. Yorkist victory confirmed Edward IV as king.
1871 Royal Albert Hall officially opened.
1936 Hitler wins plebiscite to annex the Rhineland.
1945 Last recorded strike of a V1 bomb on Britain.

Where are you safe?

The mosque attacks in Christchurch were especially shocking because New Zealand is perceived to be among the world’s safest countries. Which countries come out well and badly in the Global Peace Index published by the thinktank the Institute for Economics and Peace? (The lower the score, the more peaceful the country.)

1. Iceland 1,096
2. New Zealand 1,192
3. Austria 1,274
4. Portugal 1,318
5. Denmark 1,353
6. Canada 1,372


17. Germany 1,531
38. Italy 1,766
57. United Kingdom 1,876
61. France 1,909
121. US 2,300


158. Yemen 3,305
159. Somalia 3,367
160. Iraq 3,425
161. South Sudan 3,508
162. Afghanistan 3,585
163. Syria 3,600


Killing power

A meteor which exploded over the Bering Sea in December was measured to have an explosive power the equivalent of 173 kilotonnes of TNT, ten times that of Hiroshima. What has made the biggest explosion on earth, man or nature?
— The Tsar Bomba exploded on the island of Novaya Zemlya, off the northern coast of Russia in 1961, is estimated to have had an explosive power of 50,000 kilotonnes of TNT, or nearly 3,000 Hiroshimas.
— But the explosion of Krakatoa in 1883 is estimated to have had a power four times greater, equivalent to 200,000 kilotonnes of TNT; 36,000 people were killed, mostly as a result of the ensuing tsunami. Hiroshima, by contrast, killed roughly 80,000 people.

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