The earthquake disaster in Haiti is a tragedy with the deaths of over 100,000 people plus countless more injured and many more homeless. The world has rallied, raising millions of dollars to help the poor people of Haiti to rebuild. Out of the rubble comes the inspirational rescue of a young 7 year old boy, Kiki and his older sister, Sabrina. Eight days after the 7.0-magnitude quake devasted Haiti on January 12, 2010 the world witnessed a smiling, Kiki raising his arms in triumph as he was rescued from his destroyed home in Port-au-Prince. The image is one I will never forget and instantly became my feel good moment of 2010 and it will take a lot to beat.
Throughout the years I have seen examples all over the world of ordinary people, in extraordinary circumstances, who have stared death in the face and lived to tell the tale. Kiki’s rescue reminded me of some other inspirational examples of their will to live and of those who risked their own lives to rescue them. I would like to share three more examples that have touched me.
Beaconsfield Gold Mine Disaster, April 2006
A mine collapse at the Beaconsfield Gold Mine located in Tasmania, Australia occurred on April 25, 2006 killing one man and trapping two more men approx 1km underground. The world watched on for the next fortnight while rescue teams tried to reach the trapped men who were confined to a small area of space not large enough to even stand up in. Brant Russell and Todd Webb were eventually rescued on May 9, 2006 and the first the world saw of these two brave men was when they stepped from the underground elevator, arms raised high in jubilation looking incredibly healthy and happy. They then clocked off by punching their cards as I am sure they were keen to collect all of the overtime that was definitely due to them. These two brave men, beat the odds and were able to tell their story to the world, including a media tour of the USA and an interview with Oprah.
Thredbo Landslide Disaster – July 1997
On Wednesday, July 30, 1997, a landslide in the NSW snowfield town of Thredbo saw the collapse of two lodges killing 18 people. Rescuers combed through the horrific scene searching for survivors and eventually, on Saturday, August 2 they heard the faint cries of help from Thredbo Ski Instructor, Stuart Diver. Stuart was uninjured but extremely cold, lying naked in the ruins of his apartment with the body of his beloved wife, Sally only inches away from him. Over the next 12 hours, Australia sat glued to their televisions (myself included while I was on my honeymoon and my birthday) waiting for Mr Diver to be freed from the collapsed lodges. When the first images of Stuart Diver were broadcast, the relief that was felt across the country was enormous not only for Mr Diver but the pride and admiration we felt for the rescue teams made us all proud.
Tony Bullimore, Round the World Yachtman, January 1997
Earlier that year, in January of 1997 the world watched as an upturned yacht, The Exide Challenger, skippered by Englishman, Tony Bullimore competing in the Vendee Globe single-handed non-stop round-the-world race, was drifting capsized in the huge seas of the Southern Ocean approx 1,500 south of Perth, Australia. A distress beacon was the only form of communication from the stricken yacht and no one knew whether the experienced sailor was alive or dead. The Royal Australian Airforce repeatedly flew P-3 Orion sorties to the scene in an attempt to determine the fate of Mr Bullimore while the Royal Australian Navy dispatched the HMAS Adelaide from Perth on a rescue mission which would take 5 days through mountaineous seas to reach the area of the upturned yacht. On arrival at the scene and with French sailor, Thierry Dubois on board, who also needed rescuing when his yacht also capsized involved in the same race, the HMAS Adelaide deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat to the capsized yacht. When the crew banged on the hull of the yacht, a very relieved Tony Bullimore swam up from within the yacht to be greeted by his Australian rescuers and to the waiting world media.
The will to live enabled all of these exceptional people to survive in trying circumstances. I don’t know if I could have done the same and I hope I never get the opportunity to see if I would.
Do you remember these incredible survival stories? What were your thoughts at the time? Can you think of any other examples of incredible survival stories? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading. Your feedback is always welcome.