Gilad Shalit, a 25-year-old Israeli soldier, is released after being held for more than five years by Hamas. He is exchanged for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit had been held in Gaza since Palestinian militants kidnapped him in 2006.
Benazir Bhutto returns to Pakistan. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan and daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the 9th PM of Pakistan, Benazir returned to Pakistan after living 8 years in London and Dubai in a self-imposed exile. Two months later she was assassinated in a bombing while campaigning for the forthcoming elections.
Jesse Pipeline Explosion in Nigeria Kills Over 200. The oil pipeline, which was owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was situated just outside the city of Lagos. Over 200 people died in the resulting fire that raged for 6 days before it could be put out.
The U.S. Olympic Committee suspended two black athletes for giving a 'black power' salute during a victory ceremony at the Mexico City games.
First Space Probe to Enter the Atmosphere of Another Planet. The Soviet Probe Venera 4 entered Venus’ atmosphere and sent back information to Earth for about 90 minutes before it lost contact. When Venera 7 landed on Venus a few years later, it became the first probe to land on another planet.
Alaska Becomes a Part of the United States. US had purchased the large and sparsely populated territory of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. The purchase was not seen as a positive acquirement by many American citizens who believed that adding Alaska to the US’s territory was a waste of taxpayers’ money. Many called the act, Seward's folly after Secretary of State William H. Seward, who was responsible for making the purchase. Alaska was admitted to the Union as a state in 1959. October 18 is annually celebrated as Alaska Day in Alaska.
Moby Dick is Published for the First Time. The epic written by American novelist, Herman Melville, is about a sailor's obsession with tracking down and killing an elusive whale that took his leg in a previous encounter. The book was published as The Whale in London for the first time and then a month later as Moby Dick in the United States. It is thought to be one of the best works of fiction written in modern times.