Today in History: May 12, more than 87,000 dead or missing in China earthquake


In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the besieged city of Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered to British forces.

In 1932, the body of Charles Lindbergh Jr., the 20-month-old kidnapped son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, was found in a wooded area near Hopewell, New Jersey.

In 1933, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration were established to provide help for the needy and farmers.

In 1943, during World War II, Axis forces in North Africa surrendered. The two-week Trident Conference, headed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, opened in Washington.

In 1949, the Soviet Union lifted the Berlin Blockade, which the Western powers had succeeded in circumventing with their Berlin Airlift.

In 1958, the United States and Canada signed an agreement to create the North American Air Defense Command (later the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD).

In 1970, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm Harry A. Blackmun as a Supreme Court justice.

In 1975, the White House announced the new Cambodian government had seized an American merchant ship, the Mayaguez, in international waters. (U.S. Marines gained control of the ship three days after its seizure, not knowing the 39 civilian members of the crew had already been released by Cambodia.)

In 1982, in Fatima, Portugal, security guards overpowered a Spanish priest armed with a bayonet who attacked Pope John Paul II. (In 2008, the pope’s longtime private secretary revealed that the pontiff was slightly wounded in the assault.)

In 1986, the military action-drama film “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis and released by Paramount Pictures, had its world premiere in New York.

In 2008, a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake in China’s Sichuan province left more than 87,000 people dead or missing.

In 2009, five Miami men were convicted in a plot to blow up FBI buildings and Chicago’s Sears Tower; one man was acquitted.

In 2011, CEOs of the five largest oil companies went before the Senate Finance Committee, where Democrats challenged the executives to justify tax breaks at a time when people were paying $4 a gallon for gas.

In 2013, Pope Francis gave the Catholic Church many new saints, including hundreds of 15th-century martyrs who were beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam.

In 2021, Israel pressed ahead with a fierce military offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing as many as 10 senior Hamas military figures and toppling two high-rise towers housing Hamas facilities; the Islamic militant group showed no signs of backing down, and fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities.

In 2022, the world got a look at the first wild but fuzzy image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, with astronomers calling it a “gentle giant” on a near-starvation diet.


Actor Millie Perkins is 88.

R&B singer Jayotis Washington is 83.

Country singer Billy Swan is 82.

Actor Linda Dano is 81.

Actor Lindsay Crouse is 76.

Singer-musician Steve Winwood is 76.

Actor Gabriel Byrne is 74.

Actor Bruce Boxleitner is 74.

Singer Billy Squier is 74.

Blues singer-musician Guy Davis is 72.

Country singer Kix Brooks is 69.

Actor Kim Greist is 66.

Rock musician Eric Singer (KISS) is 66.

Actor Ving Rhames is 65.

Rock musician Billy Duffy is 63.

Actor Emilio Estevez is 62.

Actor April Grace is 62.

TV personality/chef Carla Hall is 60.

Actor Stephen Baldwin is 58.

Actor Scott Schwartz is 56.

Actor Kim Fields is 55.

Actor Samantha Mathis is 54.

Actor Jamie Luner is 53.

Actor Christian Campbell is 52.

Actor Rhea Seehorn is 52.

Actor Mackenzie Astin is 51.

Country musician Matt Mangano (The Zac Brown Band) is 48.

Actor Rebecca Herbst is 47.

Actor Malin Akerman is 46.

Actor Jason Biggs is 46.

Actor Rami Malek is 43.

Actor-singer Clare Bowen is 40.

Actor Emily VanCamp is 38.

Actor Malcolm David Kelley is 32.

Actor Sullivan Sweeten is 29.