April 16, 1979 – if you lived in Jackson Mississippi this day, you’d be either under water or about to be. The worst had not happened yet as flood waters were still rising, up to roofs in some cases. Downtown Jackson was sealed off. The Pearl River had not yet crested, even though authorities predicted it was going to crest two days earlier as the worst flood in the city’s history continued for the third day. At the Power Company, employees were frantically piling up sand in an effort to protect an important sub-station. They were pumping water at the telephone company and the city ordered all commercial users of water to stop using it until further notice. The city was able to pump water at about 50% of capacity. Sand bags were being filled and laid along the levee to keep it from eroding, but water had already made the levee practically useless for flood control as water merely ran around the embankment, forcing authorities to close Interstate 55. And more to come.
Meanwhile, Palestinian guerrillas struck the terminal at Brussels airport, and later on a new organization calling itself “Black March” claimed responsibility. Airports all around Europe were placed on special alert since the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty was signed. The Arab terrorists who struck Brussels managed to get onto a balcony overlooking the arrival hall with no one detecting their concealed explosives and automatic rifles. Their target was a group of passengers who had just arrived on a scheduled El-Al flight from Tel-Aviv. But the plane and its passengers were still far away from the terminal building when one terrorist threw a small grenade into the arrival hall, injuring about a dozen airport workers and passengers arriving from other flights. Miraculously, no one was hurt seriously by the blast. After a gunfight with airport security, two terrorists were captured, one with a bullet wound in the shoulder. A third terrorist managed to escape.
And an earthquake rattled the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia and Albania – killing over 200, injuring over 1200 and leaving over 80,000 homeless from preliminary reports. Aftershocks were continuing into a second day, toppling already weakened buildings and making it dangerous for people to return to their homes and hampering efforts to rescue those still trapped.
And that’s just a slice of what happened, this April 16th – 40 years ago, as reported by The World Tonight from CBS Radio News.