The world is full of surprises, coincidences, and events that line up so well that it is difficult to imagine they weren't preplanned. We might have encountered a few in our own lives. We look back at those moments from the vantage point of hindsight, and all we ask is how? We still can't wrap our heads around how we got out of some knotty situations. It turns out human history is replete with such moments. Here are just some of these historical moments that will leave you asking, how?
1. The (Un)luckiest Man Alive?
Frane Selak's life is nothing short of a miracle. His train once flipped off its tracks and tumbled into a river. Frane was rescued and survived, but 17 people drowned, trapped inside the train as it sank to the bottom of the river. The next year, on his first flight, the plane malfunctioned, and Frane was blown out of the aircraft. He landed safely in a haystack, but the plane crashed, killing all 19 passengers. He went on to survive five more similar near-death experiences, but in 2003, just after his 73rd birthday, Frane purchased a lottery ticket and won $1.1 million. One of the more positive things his extreme luck brought him.
2. Celebrating Too Soon
In 1985, some lifeguards in New Orleans were celebrating after going an entire season without suffering a single drowning incident at their swimming pools. There were over 200 people at this party and around half of them were lifeguards. Yet, while they were partying and hanging out, someone fell into the back of the pool and drowned.
3. Friendly Fire
In 1788, the Austrian army was fighting the Turkish army for control of the Danube River. On September 17, a quarrel ensued between the Austrian cavalrymen and infantrymen. The cavalry soldiers had found alcohol and got themselves drunk. When the infantrymen asked for a share in the drink, the cavalry soldiers refused. While they were arguing, someone mistakenly fired a shot across the river. The infantrymen on the other side of the river thought it was the Turks, so they began firing at the infantry and cavalrymen on the other side. The shooting became so intense that an Austrian commander called an artillery strike on his own men in an effort to stop them. The casualty toll was around 1,200.
4. The Great Emu War
In 1932, the Australian government declared war on emus. The large flightless bird was causing damage to crops. The government sent a team of soldiers armed with machine guns to hunt the emus. But the birds proved quite difficult to kill, eluding the soldiers in spectacular ways. The campaign to hunt the emus was ended after several unsuccessful attempts.
5. The Tunguska Event
On the morning of June 30, 1908, a 12-megaton explosion occurred near the Tunguska River in Russia. The explosion flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an area of 2,150 square kilometers of forest. Eye witness reports suggest that at least three people may have died in the incident. Though the cause of the explosion is unknown, it is mostly attributed to a meteor burst.
6. The Dancing Plague
In 1518, around 50 to 400 people began dancing in the streets of France for weeks, nonstop. Some danced till they dropped dead. Explanations abound for the reason behind this mysterious occurrence, but some of the most common are stress-induced mass hysteria and religious explanations.
7. Father of Many
Feodor Vassilyeva, a Russian peasant, had 69 kids with his first wife between 1725 and 1765. They had 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. After the death of his first wife, Vassilyeva remarried, and his second wife bore 18 children for him.
8. The Miracle of the Sun
Thousands of people in Portugal reported seeing the Sun dance and changing colors on October 13, 1917. This was part of a series of mysterious events that happened that day. A large crowd had gathered in Fatima, Portugal, to witness the events believed to have been prophesied by three shepherd children, Lucia Santos, Francisco Marto, and Jacinta Marto.
9. Foreign Accent Syndrome
A person can gain an entirely different accent overnight. It isn't really an accent, as the name implies, just an inability to make sounds correctly. So when speaking, the way the person talks shifts and changes in a way that's sudden and very noticeable. This is a legitimate brain-related condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome or FAS. Experts aren't sure what causes some types of FAS, but some are known to be caused by brain damage.
10. Operation Cottage
On the 15th of August 1943, the United States and their Canadian allies invaded Kiska island to free it from Japanese occupation. However, they had no idea the Japanese had heard of their coming and fled the island, believing themselves to be no match for the Allied forces. American and Canadian forces arrived on opposite sides of the island and advanced. Seeing soldiers on the horizon and having not met any Japanese soldiers yet, the two armies began firing at each other. The result was 195 casualties. The US and Canadian forces suffered losses fighting against no enemy in particular.
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