One Cyclone: 150,000 dead.
One Cyclone: 150,000 dead.

. . .or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Nightly News (Audio version) – November 19, 1970 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

A horrific day in history, by most accounts.

November 19th 1970 brought with it reports of some 150,000 dead, over a million refugees and untold numbers left homeless, without water, food or shelter in what was described as the worst Cyclone to hit Pakistan in the 20th Century. Some six days after the Cyclone hit, news was slowly surfacing of the devastation. Relief efforts were underway, but the fear was it would be too little and too late. The death toll continued to climb and reports of Cholera outbreaks were surfacing. It was  tragedy on a monumental scale.

But Pakistan wasn’t the only one feeling the brunt of deadly weather. In the Philippines, the worst Typhoon to hit that region in a century with the eye of the storm passing directly over Manila left some 38 dead and over 300 injured. With winds clocked at over 120 mph and hailstones as big as baseballs rained down on the city. The Philippine government declared a State of calamity for the area.

Meanwhile, deaths of the non-natural variety were being reported from Saigon with casualties of American troops fighting in Vietnam at 32 for the week with 273 wounded. A Marine helicopter returning from Danang crashed into the side of a mountain, killing all 15 aboard.

Peace talks continued in Paris with no progress. The North Vietnamese complained about American reconnaissance flights over their land and the Americans defended the actions.

The My Lai massacre trials continued on this day at Ft. Benning, Georgia with Lt. William Calley and Capt. Ernest Medina the objects of testimony. The Prosecution continued to build up its case that there was in fact a massacre at My Lai, and that an attempt was being made to tie Lt. Calley directly to the killings. Meanwhile, other testimony was going on at other courtrooms connected with the trial. It was expected the trial wouldn’t be concluded for many many weeks.

On Capitol Hill, Congress passed a bill capping the amount of money spent on TV commercials in Political campaigns. President Nixon vetoed it. Critics charged his veto was motivated by the fact he was planning on running again in 1972 and he had assembled a substantial stockpile of cash, which it was doubtful his opponent wouldn’t. And Nixon didn’t want to lose the advantage. The was expected to be another vote by the Senate, that time the vote would be to override Nixon’s veto.

The POW/MIA movement was growing in the U.S. – groups were springing up, hoping to pressure the North Vietnamese into giving detailed whereabouts of certain American soldiers classified as “missing” in Vietnam as well as better treatment of Americans currently held as POW’s in Norther Vietnamese camps.

The Sharon Tate murder trial got a surprise when the Defense suddenly announced it was resting its case, presenting no witnesses at all. However, the Manson Family girls all got up and announced they wanted to testify. After some deliberation, it was finally decided the Manson family members would testify, even though their defense attorney’s were against it. The trial and the drama were expected to continue.

And the infamous play “Oh, Calcutta!” opened in London. The cast complained about the cold, since most of them are onstage nude most of the time. The actors threatened to perform with their clothes on. And management, sensing they wouldn’t sell another ticket if they made good on their threats, decided to turn up the heat. For Art you must suffer.

And that’s just a small portion of what went on this rather harrowing November 19th in 1970 as presented by the Audio version of the NBC Nightly News.

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