August 2006 – 10 years ago

23 August 2006 – Natascha Kampusch escapes after eight year abduction

August 2006On 2 March 1998 10-year-old Natascha Kampusch was abducted in Donaustadt, Vienna, on her way to school. A witness reported having seen Kampusch being dragged into a white minivan. Police efforts in 1998 included examining nearly 800 minivans one of which was owned by the kidnapper, Wolfgang Přiklopil.

35-year-old Přiklopil lived in the town of Strasshof an der Nordbahn about 28 kilometres from Vienna. He told police that on the morning of the kidnapping he was alone at home. They were satisfied with the explanation that he was using the minivan to transport rubble from the construction of his home.

Natascha was held in a five square metre cellar beneath Přiklopil’s garage. It was built as a bomb shelter by Přiklopil’s grandfather during the Cold War. It included a steel re-enforced concrete door. Initially Natascha was restricted to the cellar but was later allowed to be in the house to cook and clean but was sent back down at night or when her kidnapper was at work.

August 2006During her eight years in captivity, Natascha Kampusch was given access to a radio and television. She indulged in the education channels and educated herself when Přiklopil supplied her with books and newspapers.

During the six months before here escape, Kampusch would be allowed to leave the house accompanied by Přiklopil. He threatened to kill her if she tried to escape or make any noise. These excursions even included a trip to a ski resort.

On 23 August 2006 Natascha Kampusch had the task of vacuuming Přiklopil’s car while he looked on. When his mobile phone rang, Přiklopil took the call and walked away from the vehicle because of the noise from the vacuum cleaner. Natascha saw her opportunity, left the vacuum cleaner on and fled to a neighbour’s house where the police was contacted.

Knowing the police would be after him, Wolfgang Přiklopil fled, and rather than be caught, he jumped in front of a suburban train and killed himself.

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August 2006 – Other Events

3 August – Floods devastated North Korea in late July and early August 2006 but the death toll remains largely unknown. The number of fatalities ranged from 151 to 54,700 depending on who was telling the story. Chosŏn Shinbo, a newspaper published by a pro-North Korean association said in the floods killed at least 549 people with 295 others missing, and left 60,000 homeless.

In a rare move North Korea asked for aid from South Korea. South Korea pledged $20 million to North Korea to help with the flooding. The South Korean aid group Good Friends estimates that the flooding left 58,000 people dead or missing and that some 1.5 million people may have been made homeless. There has been no statement from the North Korean government on whether the reports from the South Korean aid group are true.

Both the United Nations and the South Korean Red Cross offered food aid, though according to a report by Associated Press, Pyŏngyang turned these offers down.

August 2006
The church tower is what remains of the Cagsawa Church, which was damaged by the 1814 eruption of Mayon Volcano. It withstood the damage done by Typhoon Durian (Reming) in 2006. Photo credit: Tomas Tam

6 August – The Dechatu River in Ethiopia floods periodically during the rainy season; and when there are fatalities, it not just because of the flood waters but also the crocodiles that inhabit the region. The August 2006 floods killed at least 300 people.

7 August – Mount Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines. It is constantly monitored and in August 2006, 40,000 people were evacuated from the region.

August 2006
Tupolev Tu-154M, Pulkovo Airlines AN0494483. Photo credit: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt (GFDL 1.2)

22 August – The crash of Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise Flight 612 was the deadliest of 2006. Officially, all 160 passengers and 10 crew members were killed. The plane sent several SOS signals during severe turbulence before crashing near the village of Sukha Balka in Ukraine. Ukraine held a national day of mourning on 23 August 2006 and postponed their Independence Day celebrations scheduled for the 24th to the 26th. Russia held a national day of mourning on the 24th.

There is still one mystery with this air crash that remains unsolved. The flight list records 170 on board Flight 612; emergency crews found 171 bodies.

24 August – What defines a planet was finally resolved by the International Astronomical Union on 24 August 2006. For an object to be considered a planet it must be in orbit around the Sun; it must be massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity; it must have cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit. Pluto satisfies the first two criteria but not the last. Its mass is only 0.07 times that of all the other objects in its orbit. Earth’s mass is 1.7 million times the remaining mass on the same orbit. Hence, Pluto has been reclassified as a dwarf planet.

August 2006
Pavlo Lazarenko (CC BY-SA 3.0)

25 August – Pavlo Lazarenko was the Prime Minister of Ukraine for 13 months. In the mid 1990s he embezzled about US$200 million from the government. By June of 1997 when it became apparent the President, Leonid Kuchma, intended to remove Lazarenko from his position, Lazarenko had himself hospitalised. Under the Ukrainian labour code law, a hospitalized individual may not be terminated from his position. When it became evident his termination was imminent, he resigned on 2 July 1997 and fled the country.

Lazarenko was finally detained at JFK airport in 1999 and ultimately, on 25 August 2006 was found guilty of money laundering in the US and sentenced to 9 years in gaol. Pavlo Lazarenko is under investigation of over 50 crimes in Ukraine, including murder.

27 August – Comair Flight 5191 was a US domestic passenger flight from Lexington, Kentucky to Atlanta, Georgia. On 27 August 2006 the pilots of the aircraft were assigned runway 22 for takeoff, they acknowledge the assignment but turned onto runway 26 instead. Runway 22 was a 2,100 metre strip while runway 26 was only 1,100 metres. The aircraft needed 1,141 metres before it could begin its lift off. Flight 5191 sped off the end of the unlit runway and crashed into trees killing 49 of the 50 people onboard. The pilot survived.


August 2006 – Music, Movies, Books and TV

Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie and Nelly Fatardo’s Promiscuous still dominated the charts as they did in July but August 2006 also saw Sexy Back (Justine Timberlake), Déjà vu (Beyonce) and London Bridge (Fergie) at the top end of the music charts.

The sports comedy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with Will Ferrell was the box office smash of August 2006. Audiences were also going to the movies to see Snakes On A Plane; another sports movie, Invincible; You, Me and Dupree; and the animated smash, Cars.

Readers in August 2006 were enjoying Phantom by Terry Goodkind, Angels Fall by Nora Roberts and Judge and Jury by James Patterson.

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Why do people order a double cheeseburger, large fries, and a diet soda?”