Throughout the years, there have been stories of humans surviving almost-certain-death against all odds. The will to survive that humans possess is extremely strong, which leads to miraculous tales of survival. Many of these tales have to do with the giving, but sometimes cruel Mother Nature. Although Mother Nature has the ability to produce beauty beyond imagination, she also possesses the aptitude for great destruction. Whether it be through fire, earthquake, tsunami, or lightening strikes, Mother Nature has the ability to cause great destruction in her path, leaving many to suffer and die in her wake. However, even though Mother Nature has caused some unimaginable tragedies, there have been some who have survived her fury against all odds. These are the stories of people looking death straight in the face and somehow coming through it alive. Some of these people have faced some of the deadliest disasters that the world has ever known and lived to tell the tale, while others still have nearly met their maker after an unexpected lightening strike. Whatever the stories of these individuals are, one thing is certain, they are all truly inspiring.
10 Peter Skyllberg
Peter Skyllberg was discovered in his car, buried in the snow by a couple of Swedish snowmobilers. According to sources, when Skyllberg was discovered he claimed that he had been trapped in the snow for two months. Although the discovery of Skyllberg alive was certainly a miracle, many people questioned his story after he claimed that he hadn’t eaten anything the entire time he had been buried. Some scientists pointed out that death by starvation usually occurs after four weeks, while others claimed that it took 60 days. But however Skyllberg managed to survive his two-month imprisonment, it certainly is a great story.
9 Juliane Koepcke
Juliane Koepcke became world famous after she was the sole survivor of the 1971 crash of LANSA Flight 508. The airplane was struck by lightening in midair after a severe thunderstorm, causing it to break in half. After the plane broke in half, Koepcke fell from the plane, still strapped in her seat, and hit the ground. Amazingly, Koepcke survived the fall with only a broken collar-bone, a cut to her right arm and a swollen eye. When speaking about the crash Koepcke said, “I was definitely strapped in when I fell. It must have turned and buffered the crash, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived”. After Koepcke fell to the ground she waded down a stream until she found a boat. It was there that she waited until rescuers arrived.
8 Roy Sullivan
Roy Sullivan, who is probably better known as the “Human Lightening Conductor,” or “Human Lightening Rod”, holds the world record for being struck by lightning more than any other person on Earth. Sullivan has been struck by lightening a grand total of seven different times and miraculously lived through all of them. Sullivan was avoided by people later in life because of their fear of being struck by lightning while with him. Their fear may have been rational because Sullivan’s wife was actually struck by lightning in their backyard. Unfortunately, Sullivan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 71.
7 Fred Ullrich
Fred Ullrich took cover with 65 Boy Scouts after a tornado siren sounded at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch. Amidst the chaos, Ullrich tried to push the door shut from the outside and ended up being thrown from the building after a 150-mph wind blew the shelter apart. After the tornado passed, Ullrich went into rescue mode and directed people to take care of the sick and injured. In a disaster such as the tornado that Ullrich was a part of, about 10% of people panic while 80% of people do nothing. Luckily for everyone at the shelter, Ullrich was part of the small group of people who act during an emergency situation. Ullrich and his troop managed to save numerous lives after the disastrous tornado.
Marwani was involved in a deadly tornado that swept across the city of Suak Bidok, Indonesia. Her home sat just yards away from the sea at the time of the disaster. When Marwani saw the tsunami coming, she grabbed her two children and ducked behind her house in hopes of avoiding the crash. When the tsunami hit, Marwani described it as “like a train.” Marwani said, “The children held onto my shoulders, but they were torn free when I was knocked over. I was carried inland.” Amazingly, Marwani, her husband and two oldest children survived the ordeal. However, her two youngest children were never found.
5 Boyd Severson
Boyd Severson was hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park when he got trapped in a snowstorm and ended up travelling too far east. After Severson realized he was lost, he built an area for himself to spend the night on the mountain. According to sources, Severson was able to stay warm by wrapping an ace bandage around his feet and wearing a plastic bag on his arms for insulation. Luckily Severson managed to make it through the freezing temperatures and was rescued the following day. Of the rescue Severson said, “I swore for 35 years that I would never be the one that wanted rescue help. But it’s nice to have it when you need it."
4 Tami Oldham Ashcraft
In September 1983, Tami Oldham Ashcraft and her fiance Richard Sharp, became caught in a hurricane while making a delivery from Tahiti to San Diego. Ashcraft was below deck when she heard Sharp scream and was promptly knocked unconscious. When she awoke a day later, she found that her fiance was gone and her boat was in shambles. Although Ashcraft was injured, she managed to make a sail from a broken pole and extra storm jib, pump the water out of the boat, and navigate the boat manually to reach safety. It took her 41 days to reach land during which she survived on peanut butter and canned food.
3 Lik Simelum
During his 76 years of life, Lik Simelum managed to beat the odds a number of different times. He survived eruptions, landslides, earthquakes, and even a cyclone. Simelum’s first brush with death came when a volcano erupted near his house that destroyed crops and made the water unsafe to drink. After the disaster, Simelum moved to Epi Island with his family. It was there that a cyclone and a landslide occurred that claimed the lives of both his father and brother. After the landslide disaster, Simelum and his remaining family members moved again to the island of Efate. On the island he lived through a flood, and an earthquake.
2 Harrison Okene
Harrison Okene was the cook on a Nigerian tugboat when a wave slammed into the boat, causing it to flip over and break the rope that held it to an oil tanker. Okene, who was in the bathroom at the time of the capsizing, managed to find an air pocket in the engineer’s office. During this time, the tug had sunk 30 ft to the ocean floor, leaving Okene in peril. Luckily, Okene was able to climb onto a platform, which kept him away from freezing water. After three days of being underwater, rescue divers found Okene alive with barely any oxygen left. Of the twelve people on the boat, Okene was the only one who survived the ordeal.
1 Halima Suley
On August 21, 1986, Halima Suley heard a noise that sounded like a landslide before passing out after a sudden gust of wind swept through her home. The next morning, Suley woke up to find 35 of her family members dead, and the ground riddled with corpses. It turns out, a cloud had rolled over the land, killing nearly everyone in its path. About 1,800 people died as a result of the mysterious deadly cloud. Scientists soon discovered that the cloud had contained a large quantity of CO2, which most likely came from a landslide that had set the CO2 free. Although Suley lost almost all of her family during the freak natural disaster, her husband was away on business during the time. The couple went on to have five more children.