On this day: December 20

POSTED: 10:21 PM PST Dec 19, 2012    UPDATED: 11:00 PM PST Dec 19, 2013 

The Louisiana Purchase is completed, South Carolina secedes from the U.S., Edison demonstrates his incandescent light, Elvis gets drafted, and the U.S. invades Panama, all on this day.

OTD December 20 - Dona Paz
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lindsaybridge/Wikimedia Commons

1987: The passenger ferry Doña Paz sinks after colliding with the oil tanker Vector 1 in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines. Upon the collision, the Vector's cargo ignited and caused a fire on the ship that spread onto the Doña Paz. Both ships then sank into the flaming waters of the shark-infested strait. Only 26 people were rescued from the two ships, with the official death toll placed at 1,749. However, survivors said the ferry was overloaded with passengers and that the toll could actually be between 3,000 and 4,000. Either way, the collision stands as the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in history. The Doña Paz is seen here in 1984.

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