The 2010s: The disappearing Malaysia Airlines flight, Wikileaks and other stories that changed the world

A round up of the global events, from Donald Trump's election to Brexit, that kept us on the edge of our seats

Susan Ramsay |

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In a world that is ever more connected, global events are increasingly capturing our attention. Here are the ones that stood out in the last decade.

Earthquakes

The decade began with a massive earthquake in Haiti on January 12. The disaster killed more than 100,000 people and affected three million others. The magnitude 7.0 quake devastated the impoverished nation. It has still not fully recovered.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.1 magnitude quake occurred off the coast of Japan. More than 22,000 people died as a result of the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The disaster also caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The death toll would have been higher if not for the early tsunami warning that was heeded in places like Russia, Canada, the US, the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Over 400 were killed by the eruption.
Photo: AFP

Volcanoes 

Indonesia has had two major volcanic eruptions this decade. In 2010, Mount Merapi exploded, killing 353 people and forcing hundreds of thousands to be evacuated. On December 22, 2018, the volcanic island of Anak Krakatoa – named after the infamous Krakatoa volcano – erupted, causing a tsunami that killed 437 people and left more than 14,000 injured.

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Mysterious disappearance

On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 227 passengers, two pilots and 10 crew. Despite searches, no one knows what happened. The only remains are bits of debris that have washed up on the southeast coast of Africa.

Rescued miner Jose Ojeda holds up a Chilean flag after emerging from the capsule that brought him to the surface from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile.
Photo: AP

Amazing rescues 

On August 5, 2010, a copper and gold mine in the Atacama Desert in Chile collapsed, trapping 33 miners 700 metres underground, 5km from the main entrance. Rescuers desperately drilled through hard rocks, and 17 days after the collapse, they found a note, saying the miners were alive. On October 13, 69 days after the collapse, the last miner was brought to the surface, setting a record for the longest underground survival.

On June 23, 2018, an assistant football coach and 12 of his young players entered the Tham Luang Nang Non caves to explore the system. But heavy rain flooded their exit route, trapping them inside. Rescue teams came from all over the world, including China, the US, Britain, Australia and India. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk got his team working on designing a child-sized submarine. The team was found alive on July 2. All 13 of those trapped were rescued, with the last boy freed on July 10.

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Suddenly, secrets were made public

As its name suggests, WikiLeaks, based in Iceland, publishes news leaks. In February 2010, it published secret documents given to it by a US Army private. In July, it released 92,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan to three international newspapers. In October, it released 400,000 documents about the Iraq war. Its leader, Julian Assange, was accused of the sexual assault of two women in Sweden. Fearing he might be sent to the US to face trial for the leaks, he sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in Britain. He remained there from June 19, 2012, until he was arrested there last April. He is now in prison in London, awaiting extradition to the US.

On May 20, 2013, Hong Kong had an unusual guest: Edward Snowden, a former employee of the CIA arrived after copying highly secret documents. On leaving Hong Kong, he went to Moscow, where he released thousands of documents revealing embarrassing secrets about the US spying on its friends and people all over the world. Snowden was granted asylum by Russia.

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Political upsets

On June 16, 2015, businessman Donald Trump announced his campaign to be the Republican’s presidential candidate. He won the primaries and stood against Democrat Hillary Clinton, an experienced politician, and wife of the former US president Bill Clinton. On November 8, 2016, Trump was elected president. The rest, as they say, is history.

On June 23, 2016, the people of Britain took part in a referendum to decide whether they wanted to remain in the European Union. Most people assumed it would be an easy win for Prime Minister David Cameron, who wanted to stay in the EU. However, Brits voted to leave the EU by 51.89 per cent. Cameron resigned and Theresa May took his place. She failed to deliver Brexit and resigned, and was replaced by Boris Johnson. Britain is set to leave the EU on January 31.

Edited by Ingrid Piper