As humans, there is only so much we can take before our bodies finally give in. Food, water, and clean air are non-negotiables – anyone who finds themselves in a situation without these must rely on their survival tactics and plenty of luck to survive.

Over time, amazing survival stories have been told. The narratives are so many and distributed worldwide, so it is impossible to document them all (in detail) in this piece. However, we have gathered several where even the characters and their families had given up but still somehow survived.

1. The Story of the Chilean Miners

On the afternoon of August 25, 2010, 33 Chilean miners were buried alive while going about their mining activities. At first, the miners thought it was something they could work around by maybe removing the soil covering the entries, but it wasn’t.

A local emergency squad was the first to arrive at the scene. They did so when it was already late at night, but it wasn’t their fault – it was the mining site’s position. Located deep in the Atacama Desert, there was no possible way that the rescue team could make it on time.

Things moved from bad to worse when another collapse happened two days later, further burring and permanently blocking every possible escape route for the miners. For the subsequent 17 days, the miners survived on their emergency supplies, which was enough for only 2 days on regular occasions.

At one point, the Chilean government sort international help. With NASA’s intervention, the miners received water, communication devices, and nutrient gels passed through tiny holes. It took scientists, mental health experts, and a battalion of other experts to help the miners remain alive.

On October 9, 2010, all 33 miners were rescued. Even though some returned to their mining job after some time, most suffered mental health issues and trauma and could not return. However, the fact that they survived 69 days underground with limited supply is something to be grateful for.

2. Thai Cave Rescue

People widely practice meditation in Thailand. So, when 12 young soccer players and their coach visited Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai Province for spiritual purposes in 2018, it wasn’t unusual. However, on this day, it wasn’t business as usual.

Following a heavy downpour, the cave flooded, and the kids and their coach were trapped. They found the highest rock, bundled together, and continued meditating, waiting for help. After noticing their missing children, the locals mounted a rescue mission, but it wasn’t easy.

It took international intervention for the survivors to see the light again. Of course, many were weak; they hadn’t eaten for about a week. However, they lived to tell their survival tale.

Unfortunately, one of the players, Duangphet Prompthepl, recently passed away in a soccer academy in England. All the others are still alive and kicking (literally).

3. Juliane Koepcke Survives an Air Crash

After clearing high school, most graduates usually take the time to “explore” what the world offers. For 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke, this was precisely the case. She boarded a flight with her mother, not knowing it was the last time they would see each other alive.

Mid-air, lightning struck the airplane, and within no time, it plummeted deep into the Peruvian rainforest. When Juliane regained consciousness, she was still belted on her seat with a broken collarbone and wounded arm. Everybody else, including her mother, had passed away.

Her journey of survival took her 11 days. Insects and maggots fed on her wounds, and the pain from her broken collarbone didn’t help much. By some miracle, she stumbled upon some people logging. Fortunately, they graciously offered her first aid and took her to a hospital.

Juliane survived and narrated the ordeal through a 1998 documentary, Wings of Hope. Fun fact: another person (Herzog) was to travel in the same aircraft but changed his plan at the last minute.

4. The Robertson Family Ordeal

Every father’s dream is to occasionally take his family out on an adventure. At least, for Dougal Robertson, this was the case. On January 27, 1971, Robertson, his wife, and four children set sail to unchartered waters.

The first 17 months were a success. The family explored the world unbothered. However, tragedy struck one day when they encountered a group of bloodthirsty whales from the Galapagos Islands. Realizing they could be in for a sumptuous dinner, the whales bombarded the family’s ship, wrecking it to pieces.

Fortunately, Robertson had a lifeboat and a dinghy that they used to escape to the shore. Even so, the raft could only sustain them for so long. They survived on rainwater and hunted turtles, hoping for a miracle.

Robertson’s family’s last transportation option was the dinghy. They clung to it until some Japanese fishermen spotted and rescued them.

5. The Infamous Papillon 

If you are heavy on movies, a remake of Pappilon’s story is available. After being falsely accused and convicted, Henri “Papillon” Charriere finds a new friend in prison who helps finance his escape. Originally a safe-cracker, Papillon’s escape escapades were not straight away successful.

After several unsuccessful attempts, he was thrown into the Devil’s Island. At the time, only one other person had escaped from there. Prisoners usually died of starvation, diseases such as malaria, or eaten up by wild animals.

As its name suggests, it was not easy to escape from Devil’s Island. Prisoners usually died within a year after joining. However, Papillon defied the odds and somehow escaped. He lived to write a book and share his account.

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Last Update: July 22, 2023