Today in history

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 12:00am

In Hong Kong

1961: A large gathering including personalities from stage and screen, prominent members of Chinese literary circles and businessmen, filled the Astor Theatre to pay tribute to Mei Lan-fang, the international stage actor who had died on August 8.

1963: A jobless man who went 20 times to a food stall for a cup of coffee - and each time stole two $2 tins of condensed milk - was sentenced to nine months in jail. The 31-year-old could not give a satisfactory explanation for his actions.

1966: Interest was waning in the Maiden Festival as roadside offerings had all but vanished on its eve. The day commemorated the romance between the legendary cowherd Niu Lang and the heavenly weaver Zhi Nu. Unmarried Chinese girls would pray to the mystical couple that they would find an ideal husband.

Around the world

1911: Leonardo da Vinci's painting the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris by an Italian waiter, Vicenzo Perruggia. It was recovered in 1913.

1944: Representatives of the United States, Britain, Russia and China met near Washington to plan for the formation of the United Nations.

1959: The Baghdad Pact was renamed the Central Treaty Organisation after Iraq's withdrawal earlier in the year.

1960: Kenyan nationalist leader Jomo Kenyatta was released by the British after being detained for nine years.

1961: The US and El Salvador signed the first Food for Peace agreement.

1965: The US spacecraft Gemini 5 was launched from Cape Kennedy, with Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad on board.

1968: Forces from the Soviet Union and four other Eastern-Bloc states marched towards Prague after crossing the Czech border overnight.

1982: After three months of fighting in Lebanon, a multinational force evacuated thousands of Palestinians.

1983: Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated moments after he stepped off the plane carrying him home from three years in exile in the United States.

1988: An earthquake killed about 1,000 people on India's border with Nepal.

1989: British conservationist George Adamson, whose work featured in the film Born Free about Elsa the lioness, was murdered in Kenya.

1990: The first pictures from Venus by the space probe Magellan showed features similar to volcanoes and valleys on Earth.

1991: Latvia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

1991: Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev declared he was back in full control after a 60-hour coup by communist hardliners crumbled under popular resistance.

1994: The last French troops pulled out of Rwanda, ending their controversial humanitarian mission.

1997: Newly appointed prime minister of Afghanistan Abdur Rahim Gaffurzai was killed in a plane crash.

2000: British troops were rushed back to Belfast's streets after two men were killed in a feud between Protestant groups.