Time and History 12:13 A.M. Dag Hammarskjold Dies

About major and minor historical events around the clock such as the mysterious crash of Dag Hammarskjold's plane at 12:15 in the morning.

HISTORY AROUND THE CLOCK

12:13 in the Morning

Sept. 18, 1961. A DC-6B airliner carrying 56-year-old Dag Hammarskjold, the Swedish secretary-general of the U.N., crashed in a jungle near Ndola in present-day Zambia. On board were a six-man crew plus Hammarskjold's staff of eight men and one woman. All were killed instantly except for Hammarskjold and an aide, who were both thrown clear. Although the plane was several hours overdue and a police inspector telephoned the airport to describe a mysterious flash, no search party was organized until 10:00 A.M. The wreckage was sighted at 3:10 P.M. Hammarskjold had died during the night, but his aide, Sgt. Harold Julien, a security officer, survived for five days, during which time he raved about explosions and sparks in the sky.

A postmortem established that two of the victims were riddled by bullets--officially from a box of ammunition that had exploded on impact. The official verdict was "pilot error." However, due to the acute political crisis at that time in the Congo, rumor of assassination has never died. Harry S Truman, former U.S. president, said, "Dag Hammarskjold was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said, `when they killed him.'"

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