Plane crashes, the unsolved murder of a famous rapper, a computer virus… they’ve all happened on Friday the 13th.
Fear of Friday the 13th is widespread, and it even has a name – Paraskevidekatriaphobia or Friggatriskaidekaphobia.
The origins of the phobia are not known for certain, but the number 13 is believed by many to have evil connotations (which is why many hotels don’t have a 13th floor or a Room 13) while Friday is also considered unlucky in certain religions and cultures (Jesus was crucified on a Friday).
So here are some of the terrible things that have happened on Friday the 13th.
During the second world war, Buckingham Palace was bombed by the Germans on Friday the 13th. The King and Queen were both at the palace at the time but escaped unhurt.
Queen Elizabeth – later the Queen Mother – stoically said afterwards that she was “glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face”.
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Nearly half a century later, rap superstar Tupac Shakur, who had been shot four times in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, clung on to life for a few days – before dying on Friday the 13th.
It remains one of the most famous unsolved murders, and conspiracy theories still swirl around who was responsible.
In January 2012, more than 30 people were killed when the Costa Concordia passenger ship became the largest vessel ever to sink, on Friday the 13th.
The captain of the liner was later convicted of manslaughter for his role in the tragedy, which happened off the coast of Italy.
Less serious, but even more spooky, was the lightning strike on a boy at the Lowestoft Air Show in 2010. The boy, who was 13, was hit by the bolt just before 1.15pm – or 13:13, according to the 24-hour clock – on Friday the 13th.
He suffered only minor burns, as did two other people at the display who were also holding umbrellas at the time.
A number of terrible plane crashes have happened on Friday the 13th.
In October 1972, a plane flying from Uruguay to Chile crashed in the Andes. In the gruesome aftermath, the survivors had to resort to cannibalising dead passengers in order to survive.
Rescue efforts had been abandoned, and it was only when two men showed up more than two months later that authorities realised there were 16 other survivors still in the mountains.
Eerily, on the very same day, another plane came down in Russia. Aeroflot 217 was heading to St Petersburg when it crashed in bad weather, killing all 174 people on board. At the time it was the worst crash in Russian history.
Friday the 13th was the day on which the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan was born, in July 1821.
Nathan Bedford Forrest became a Confederate general in the American Civil War and oversaw the Fort Pillow Massacre, in which more than 200 unarmed Union soldiers who had already surrendered were killed.
Despite his evil legacy, in later life Forrest said he thought the KKK should be abolished.
On Friday the 13th in October 1989, one of the first widespread computer viruses attacked IBM machines in the UK, having been programmed to delete personal files on that particular date.
Unlike today’s world, where viruses can spread globally within seconds, the good news was that the Friday the 13th Virus was contained within this country.
There could be trouble ahead, too. In eight years’ time – on Friday the 13th in April 2029, to be precise – an asteroid named 99942 Apophis will come within “just” 20,000 miles of Earth – a near-miss in space terms.
Our gravity might cause problems for the asteroid, with scientists saying it might suffer avalanches, but we’re expected to get through unscathed.
Fingers crossed, anyway…
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