50 True Tales and Facts About Courageous Rescues

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26 Pacific Ocean Turtle Blood Survival

Pacific Ocean Turtle Blood Survival

In 1971, a family of five survived a shipwreck by taking enemas of turtle blood and rainwater collected in the bottom of their lifeboat. Drinking the mixture orally would have been poisonous and led to their deaths. After 37 days, some fishermen spotted them adrift in the Pacific Ocean, 300 miles from land, and rescued them.


27. In 1991, the cruise ship Oceanos sank, prompting the crew to abandon the vessel, leaving the passengers behind. Guitarist Moss Hills took charge, radioing for help and coordinating the rescue operation that saved everyone on board.


28. A pastor named Joseph Combs and his wife, Evangeline Combs, kidnapped a 4-month-old baby named Elsa Garcia from an orphanage to raise as a slave. They forced her to serve them and consistently beat, tortured, and molested her. She was rescued at the age of 19 and had 410 scars on her body.


29. An 18-month-old baby named Jessica McClure fell into an abandoned well in Texas in 1987, trapping her for 58 hours. Live television captured the rescue operation, which involved drilling a parallel shaft and tunneling through to reach her.


30. Bahia Bakari, aged 12, was the sole survivor of a 2009 plane crash in the Indian Ocean that claimed the lives of her mother and 151 others. Despite her lack of swimming experience and lack of a life vest, Bahia Bakari clung to a piece of wreckage and floated in the heavy seas for over 9 hours, most of which she spent in darkness, until her rescue.


31 Israeli Cargo Ship Vietnamese Rescue

Israeli Cargo Ship Vietnamese Rescue

In 1977, an Israeli cargo ship rescued 66 starving Vietnamese men, women, and children after their SOS signals were ignored by four other countries. Israel granted them all citizenship.


32. To rescue Ethiopian Jews, the Mossad purchased and operated a profitable scuba diving resort in Sudan between 1982 and 1984, facilitating the safe smuggling of 8,000 people to Israel.


33. In 1992, a family friend, John Esposito, kidnapped Katie Beers, age 9, and imprisoned her in a bunker beneath his garden. Despite enduring abuse and captivity, she was rescued after 17 days when Esposito confessed.


34. In 2008, a father and his autistic son were stranded in the Atlantic Ocean. Before the U.S. Coast Guard rescued them, they repeated “to infinity and beyond” to keep track of each other while treading water for 15 hours.


35. In 2014, a 3-year-old was rescued after spending 11 days in the Siberian wilderness, thanks to her puppy, which she held onto for warmth. Her search party found her less than 100 feet away.


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36 Australian Air Canada Emergency Beacon Rescue

Australian Air Canada Emergency Beacon Rescue

In 2012, Australian authorities requested an Air Canada flight to investigate an emergency beacon. The plane, carrying 270 people, flew at 4000 feet despite the 90-minute delay, and the crew and passengers used binoculars to locate a stranded sailor, whom police later rescued after the plane landed safely in Sydney.


37. In 2010, three drunken boys on a Pacific Island decided to sail out to sea looking for a girl they saw at a sports competition event. After they sailed for over seven weeks and drifted 1300 km off course, a tuna boat rescued them. They all survived by drinking beer, eating coconuts, and catching a bird.


38. In 2012, a Swedish man survived for two months in a car buried under snow, sustaining himself solely on snow and benefiting from the “igloo effect.”


39. Shavarsh Karapetyan, an Armenian finswimmer who once heard a bus crash into the water while finishing a 12-mile run, dove down 33 feet and rescued 20 people, one at a time. He is an 11-time World Record holder, a 17-time World Champion, a 13-time European Champion, and a 7-time USSR Champion.


40. In 2021, lost on a Colorado mountain for 24 hours, a hiker ignored calls, texts, and voicemail messages from rescue teams due to not recognizing the phone number.


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41 Marshall Islands Drifting Fishermen Reunion

Marshall Islands Drifting Fishermen Reunion

In 2011, two fishermen from Kiribati drifted for 33 days before reaching the Marshall Islands. They discovered that their previously presumed deceased uncle, who had been missing for 25 years after also going adrift, had landed in the Marshall Islands and married.


42. In 1816, 147 shipwrecked Frenchmen were stranded on a makeshift raft after their captain severed the tow rope. Within 3 days, they resorted to cannibalism, and only 15 survived to be rescued after 13 days. The aristocratic captain, who hadn’t sailed in 20 years, was entirely responsible for this avoidable tragedy.


43. The Grafton Castaways, akin to a real-life Gilligan’s Island, were shipwrecked for 18 months in the Auckland Islands in 1864. The five men crafted a thatched hut with glass windows and bookshelves, established a forge, tanned leather, produced soap from seashells, and even brewed beer for survival.


44. The legend of “Bob,” a Newfoundland terrier from the nineteenth century, began when he was found shipwrecked off the coast of England. Renowned in London for saving drowning individuals, he completed 23 rescues in 14 years, earning him an honorary membership in the Royal Humane Society.


45. During World War II, nine crewmen survived a plane crash. The Japanese captured and consumed eight of the crewmen. A passing submarine saved one of the crewmen. This survivor happened to be George H.W. Bush.


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46 Skydiver Anthill Survival

Skydiver Anthill Survival

In 1999, a skydiver named Joan Murray, both of whose parachutes had failed while skydiving, survived a free-fall of 14,500 feet by falling on an anthill. The ants’ bites kept her heart beating and adrenaline pumping.


47. Betty Lou Oliver survived a 75-story plunge down an elevator shaft following the 1945 Empire State Building crash, setting the world record for the longest-surviving elevator fall.


48. In 1954, Ernest Hemingway survived two plane crashes in two days. Nearly 24 hours after his presumed death, he emerged from the jungle, carrying bananas and a bottle of gin.


49. In 2012, Jose Alvarenga, a Salvadorian fisherman, endured 438 days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean. He survived without a motor, GPS, or food, relying on raw turtle and fish, rainwater, turtle blood, and his own urine. He holds the record for the longest-surviving castaway.


50. The infamous serial killer Ted Bundy once rescued a child from drowning.


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