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13 tales of survival from around the world

Stories of survival often include extraordinary challenges, hardship, and a broader tragedy. But most of all, they inspire.

These survivors experienced tough situations – hurricanes, tornadoes, and avalanches – and lived to tell about their ordeals. In some cases, their lives depended on the quick thinking and kindness of strangers, while a few made bold sacrifices to ensure the safety of others or themselves.

From earthquake survivors in Japan, to Chilean miners trapped for more than two months, the themes that unite these 11 tales are resilience, perseverance, and courage. 

Hugo Infante/Chilean Government/AP
The last miner to be rescued, Luis Urzua, (l.), is greeted by Chile's President Sebastian Pinera after his rescue from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he had been trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010.

Tugboat cook survives for 72 hours in tiny air pocket under the Atlantic

AP Photo/DCN Diving
Harrison Odjegba Okene looks in awe as a rescue diver surfaces into the air pocket which has kept Okene alive for nearly three days, recorded by the diver's video headcam. Okene was working as a cook aboard a tugboat in the Atlantic Ocean off the Nigerian coast in June 2013, when a heavy swell caused the vessel to capsize and sink to the sea bed, where his 11 colleagues drowned. But Okene was able to find an air pocket inside the sunken ship, where he survived for nearly three days before being found by a group of South African rescue divers.

In May 2013 Harrison Okene, the cook aboard a tugboat which capsized while servicing an oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria, survived for 72 hours in a dwindling air pocket, before rescue divers found him.

Okene was the accident's sole survivor, and seven months later his ordeal touched viewers worldwide when a video of the rescue went viral. In the video, his hand grasps the hand of a diver underwater who at first shouts with alarm, having found only human remains until then. 

Wearing only boxer shorts when the boat capsized, Okene managed to grab a life vest with two flashlights, and Associated Press reported that he kept himself out of the near-freezing water by piling mattresses on top of a platform, in the cabin's small dry space. 

As he slowly depleted his limited oxygen supply, AP reported that he prayed, regretted not yet having fathered a child with his wife, and survived on a single bottle of Coke.

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