August 1996 – 20 years ago

6 August 1996 – Crash of Korean Air Flight 801

Korean Air Flight 801 - August 1996 - 20 years ago
Wreckage of the Korean Airlines flight 801 burns at the Sasa Valley crash site on Aug 6, 1997.

Korean Air Flight 801 crashed on 6 August 1996 approaching Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport in Guam. The aircraft crashed on Nimitz Hill in Asan killing 228 of the 254 people aboard.

Heavy rain at Guam significantly reduced visibility and the crew attempted an instrument landing. The Instrument Landing System in the runway was out of service but the captain was unaware of it. He managed to pick up a signal which was later identified to be from un-connected electronics device on the ground.

Despite protests from the flight engineer that the detected signal was not from the runway the captain carried on and ultimately the aircraft flew into Nimitz Hill 5.6 km short of the runway at an altitude of 200 metres.


14 August 1996 – Arequipa fireworks accident

Celebrations for the 456th anniversary for the founding of the city of Arequipa in Peru’s south went wrong when a rocket from a fireworks display flew astray and hit a high tension cable. The 10,000 volt cable came down on a crowded bridge electrocuting dozens of people.

The spectators were crammed on the cobblestone Grau Bridge to watch the fireworks and a music show along the banks of Chili River when the accident happened. The rocket exploded when it hit the cable exposing the wiring which fell on the crowd below.

Some of the victims burst into flames. 35 people were killed with some of the bodies unrecognizable. Another 42 were taken to the hospital with burns. The dead included two thirteen year-olds and a pregnant woman.

The 76 centimetre rocket was reportedly larger than was authorized by the civil defence.



August 1996 – Other events

4 August 1996 – 600 children from Atlanta ranging from ages six to twelve sang a rendition of “The Power of the Dream” during the closing ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Ten-year-old Rachel McMullin started the singing and as the song progressed more children join in creating a full choir. The children lined up and held hands to form the Atlanta Olympic emblem while holding up flashlights with the spectators and athletes joining in and also holding hands. At the end of the song, the children shout in unison, “Y’all come back now!” inviting the athletes and citizens of the world to come together at Sydney in 2000.


Priya Cooper - August 1996 - 20 years ago
Australian S8 swimmer Priya Cooper on the pool deck with the Australian flag, gold medal and flowers after a medal presentation ceremony at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games

6 August 1996 – NASA announced that a Martian meteorite discovered two years previously may contain evidence of bacteria fossils. The evidence is still regarded as not conclusive.

6 to 10 August 1996 –266 people in the Fujian and Guangdong provinces in China were killed when heavy rains fell flooding more than 70,000 homes.

Charles and Diana - August 1996 - 20 years ago
Charles and Diana: Prince Charles & Princess Diana, Sovereign Series Royal Wedding 1981 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

7 August 1996 – Heavy rains in the Huesca Province in Spain caused flooding that killed 85 people at the Las Nieves campsite.

18 to 25 August 1996 – Heavy monsoon rainfall caused a dike on the Red River in Vietnam to burst. The flooding left 55 dead.

19 August 1996 – Thousands of protesters, in a breakaway group from a pre-budget rally against the Federal Government’s workplace reforms, broke down the doors of Parliament House and caused an estimated $200,000 worth of damage in one of the most violent demonstrations ever seen in Australia.

24 August 1996 – Australia’s medal haul at the Atlanta Paralympic games saw them finished second to the host USA in the medal tally with 106 medals which included 42 gold, 37 silver and 27 bronze. Swimmer Priya Cooper and Wheelchair track athlete Louise Sauvage came away with five and four golds, respectively.

28 August 1996 – After five years of separation, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were formally divorced. A year and three days later on 31 August 1997,  the Princess of Wales died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France.

29 August 1996 – The crash of Vnukovo Airlines Flight 2801 was the deadliest aviation accident in Norway. The plane carrying 130 passengers and 11 crew crashed into Operafjellet (“The Opera Mountain”) killing all onboard. The accident was put down to a series of errors by the pilot and crew.



August 1996 – Music, Movies, Books and TV

A Time To Kill - August 1996 - 20 years agoThree massive songs dedicated the music charts in August 1996. The Spice Girls’ Wannabe, Los Del Rio’s Macarena and the Atlanta Olympic anthem Power of the Dream by Celine Dion. Macarena would stay on top of the charts from 3 August until 2 November.

A Game Of Thrones - August 1996 - 20 years agoJohn Grisham’s 1989 novel A Time to Kill hit the big screen in August 1996. A cast which included Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt, Ashley Judd and Donald Sutherland made this a blockbuster. The Kevin Costner and Rene Russo romantic comedy Tin Cup was also a hit.

Big in books in August 1996 was still Patricia Cornwell’s Cause of Death with Anne Rice’s historical horror Servant of Bones. Also notable was the publication of George R R Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series on 6 August 1996. A Song of Ice and Fire was adapted into the hit TV series Game of Thrones which debut in 2011.

On Australian TV we finally saw the debut of the sitcom Friends on Channel 7 two years after it premiered in the US. Channel 9 took over from season 2.



Why is it that raindrops, but snowfalls?”