Reuters historical calendar - June 30
London, June 29 (Reuters) Following are some of the major events to have occurred on June 30 since 1900: 1908 - A huge explosion believed to have been caused by a meteorite rocked eastern Siberia. The resulting tremor was felt as far away as central Europe.
1934 - During Germany's ''Night of the Long Knives'', Hitler purged political rivals including stormtrooper leader Ernst Roehm and Kurt von Schleicher.
1936 - The American novelist Margaret Mitchell published ''Gone With the Wind''.
1936 - Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia appeared before the League of Nations to appeal for help after Italy's invasion of his country.
1960 - The Republic of Congo achieved independence from Belgium.
1963 - Cardinal Giovanni Montini was enthroned as Pope Paul VI.
1971 - The three-man crew of the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz II died on re-entry to the earth's atmosphere due to a drop in air pressure.
They had set a space endurance record of 570 hours and 22 minutes.
1974 - Alberta King, mother of the black U S civil rights leader Martin Luther King, was assassinated during a church service.
1974 - The Soviet ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defected to the West while touring Canada with the Bolshoi Ballet.
1985 - Thirty-nine Americans who had been held hostage on a TWA airliner for 17 days were released in Beirut.
1990 - East and West Germany merged their economies, with the East adopting the Western deutsche mark as its currency.
1997 - Britain handed Hong Kong back to China at the stroke of midnight.
2001 - Chet Atkins, the legendary country guitarist who helped pioneer the ''Nashville Sound'' of pop-flavoured, string-laden country music, died aged 77.
2003 - The American television comedian Buddy Hackett died at 78.
He also appeared in films including ''The Music Man'' and ''It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World''.
2004 - NASA's Cassini spacecraft slipped through Saturn's rings and into orbit as it settled in to make the most detailed study ever of the sixth planet from the sun.
2005 - The Spanish parliament gave final approval to a law legalising gay marriage, overriding fierce opposition from the Catholic church. Spain became only the fourth country after Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands to permit same-sex marriage.
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