What Went Down in the First Month of 2020

Friday, January 31

By Clara

Has January been the longest month you've had to endure? 31 days into 2020 and we have already been met with major destruction such as fires, virus outbreaks, and signs of an incoming World War III. Are things going to get better from here on out? Here’s January of 2020, summarized.

1) South Australian Bushfires

The Australian Bushfires made headlines in January. Bushfires are a common and natural phenomenon in Australia as summer approaches, but the bushfires this year takes the cake. The 2019-2020 bushfire season was one of the worst that has ever hit Australia, with most of the megafires located in the South East region of Australia.


Image screenshot from Metabunk

The fires wreaked havoc throughout Australia for more than six months, which inadvertently caused air quality to drop to the hazardous level. It has been reported that the smoke had traveled all the way to Argentina. The copious amounts of smoke produced affected New Zealand too, as it turned New Zealand skies Orange and their glaciers brown. Although Australians are still battling the raging fires, heavy rainfall has helped subdue and put out fires in some parts of Australia. 

Conspiracies about the fires have also been spread online, with some speculating that the fires were the result of arson. However, Australian officials quickly shut down rumors. “There is currently no intelligence to indicate that the fires in East Gippsland and the North East have been caused by arson or any other suspicious behavior,” a Victoria police spokeswoman said.

As of January 2020, fires this season have burned an estimated 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres; 186,000 square kilometers; 72,000 square miles), destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people. An estimated one billion animals have been killed and some endangered species may be driven to extinction.

2) Iran and the United States conflict

On the 3rd of January 2020, US President Donald Trump authorized the targeted killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq (Baghdad International Airport strike). Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the drone attack. This sparked anger among Iranians,  and they vowed to seek revenge. In a statement released by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he mentions that “a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands.”


Image via Business Insider
Burning debris could be seen near the Baghdad International airport


3) Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752

Shortly after the Iran and United States conflict, Iran made headlines yet again on the 8th of January. Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (PS752) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Tehran to Kiev operated by Ukraine International Airlines (UIA). On 8 January 2020, the Boeing 737-800 operating the route was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. All 176 passengers and crew were killed; it was the first fatal air accident for Ukraine International Airlines. It was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which attributed it to human error, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani describing the accident as an "unforgivable mistake”. 


Image obtained via Al Jazeera
Investigators working tirelessly, examining the crime scene and identifying victims after the crash.

“The plane was flying in its normal direction without any error and everybody was doing their job correctly,” Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ airspace unit, said during a televised news conference later Saturday. “If there was a mistake, it was made by one of our members.” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif, took to Twitter to apologize for the ‘human error’ that ‘led to disaster’. However, the post also insinuated that the United States was to be blamed for the accident as well, and the human error was due to ‘a time of crisis caused by US adventurism’.

The crash came about a mere four hours after Iran launched retaliatory missile strikes on U.S. positions in Iraq for the killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani. Iran was on the highest state of defensive alert and, according to Commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Amir Ali Hajizadeh, was "totally prepared for a full-fledged war".


4) 2019-2020 Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak

This topic has been covered in previous posts. You can read more about it here.


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