2011 World In Review, Part 2: Natural Disasters Strike Across The Globe, UK Celebrates Royal Wedding
A number of catastrophic natural disasters hit in 2011, notably in Japan, where nearly 16,000 people were killed in a massive earthquake, but there was cause for celebration as the year carried on with a widely watched royal wedding. NY1’s Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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March 11, 2011 is a date that will be forever remembered in Japanese history. That's the day one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history rocks the island nation and triggers a 23-foot tsunami that sweeps away homes, cars and businesses.
The Japanese prime minister calls the 9.0 quake the worst event to happen to Japan since the end of World War II. Nearly 16,000 people perish with thousands still missing.
With hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, it now stands as the most expensive natural disaster on record.
When the earth shakes in the middle of the night in Christchurch, New Zealand in February, the 6.3 magnitude earthquake reduces a major city to rubble, and 181 people die in the disaster. More than half of those killed are trapped in the collapse of a six-story television building.
Just days after the New Year, a series of mudslides and floods in Brazil bury parts of cities under layers of earth. Nearly 1,000 poor people who live in shacks perched on steep hillsides with no foundations become victims. Heavy, earth-moving rains reportedly bury residents as they sleep in an area about 40 miles north of Rio, making it the worst natural disaster in Brazil's history.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez travels to Cuba last summer to have surgery to remove a tumor from his pelvic region. The 57-year-old Latin American leader is apparently recovering from his treatment and is now running for reelection.
It was the phone hacking scandal that is heard around the world. Rupert Murdoch's media empire takes a big hit this summer as allegations of unethical and possibly illegal activities lead to the closure of his tabloid News of the World. The media titan issues a series of apologies for his organization’s "serious wrongdoing" and fires some of his top lieutenants.
After being holed up in an Italian prison for four years, Amanda Knox is set free in October. The college student from Seattle convicted of murdering her roommate in 2007 has the verdict overturned by an Italian jury after the DNA evidence from the prior trial is discredited. Knox and her boyfriend had both been sentenced to more than 20 years in connection with the slaying.
The European Debt Crisis has a cascading effect on the global economy this year. European policy makers scratched their heads for solutions in 2011 as they struggle to find ways to stabilize the debt crisis which nearly cripples Greece, Ireland and Portugal. At year’s end, European Leaders are still trying to find ways to right the crisis and save the Euro zone.
And finally, it’s the biggest and most watched royal wedding since Charles and Di. Prince William and Kate Middleton exchange vows in April at Westminster Abbey as thousands line the streets in London. In a departure from the pomp and circumstance, the prince and his bride speed away from Buckingham Palace in a convertible Astin Martin convertible with a plate that reads “Just Wed.”