It is, without a doubt, many people’s worst nightmare – to find themselves trapped underground with seemingly no escape nor access to the outside world.
While there have been many incidents like this which have had a tragic outcome, there were some courageous people who were in this exact same situation and survived to tell the tale.
Here are 10 times people were horrifically trapped underground.
10. Chilean Mining Accident
Taking place on the 5th of August, 2010, the Chilean mining accident is an incredible story of survival despite all odds, and it’ll surely send chills down your spine at the sheer perseverance of the survivors.
Prior to this accident, the mine where the Chilean workers were inside had a history tainted with tragedy. The conditions inside the mine were far from acceptable or safe and has led many miners straight to their deaths.
When the mine began to collapse in 2010, some workers who were near the entrance were able to escape quickly. However, 33 workers were not as fortunate as the miners near the entrance and they became trapped 2,300 feet underground.
The search for survivors began almost immediately. The workers spent 70 grueling days trapped underground where they received nutrient gel, water, and first aid supplies to help them get by.
Finally, on October 13th, 33 workers were rescued one at a time and pulled out of their would-be grave.
It was later reported that the rescue operation expenses totaled nearly $20 million USD.
9. Chinese Mining Accident
A more recent mining accident took place in China in 2021. While this accident didn’t last as long as the previous one, it had a much more tragic outcome.
29 Chinese miners were working in a coal mine when a flood took place, trapping them all inside the underground mine. 1,400 people were involved in the rescue operation, which consisted of pumping water out of the shaft and pumping vital oxygen into the mine. Unfortunately, only 8 out of the 29 miners were rescued and taken to a nearby hospital. As for the rest, 13 miners were confirmed dead and operations are still taking place to find the remaining missing miners.
8. French Underground Cave Volunteer Experiment
Being trapped underground is a harrowing event that has a traumatic outcome for everyone involved, even if someone was fortunate enough to survive.
Imagine the level of dedication one needs to have in order to voluntarily take part in an experiment that involves getting trapped underground for an extended period of time.
A group of French volunteers decided to participate in a study that was created to explore the psychological limits of humans. Fifteen brave volunteers agreed to stay in an underground cave where they’d have no access to sunlight, phones, clocks, electricity, or the outside world for a staggering 40 days.
7. Stefania Follini
If you thought the French cave experiment was crazy, wait until you hear the story of Stefania Follini, an interior designer who decided to participate in a similar experiment that would last for 130 consecutive days.
While 20 people volunteered to take part in this experiment, Follini alone was chosen to participate, as she possessed great mental discipline and had an introspective nature.
The experiment was jointly conducted by Pioneer Frontier Explorations and NASA in order to find out the effects that long solitude would have on a person. The cave where the experiment took place was 30 feet underground and completely isolated from the outside world.
Surprisingly enough, after the end of the 4 months period, Follini stated that she felt great and wouldn’t mind doing an experiment like that again.
6. Essie Dunbar
While people getting trapped underground is something that most likely happens as a result of a mine collapsing, Essie Dunbar’s situation was entirely different.
It’s safe to say that premature burial (getting buried alive) doesn’t happen that often–but it does happen, and Essie Dunbar was one of the victims of this unfortunate incident.
In 1915, Dr. D. K. Briggs was informed that Essie Dunbar had died after suffering an epileptic attack. When he examined her, he found no signs that would indicate that she was alive. A funeral was arranged to mourn the death of Essie.
Although the ceremony and the burial took quite some time, Essie’s sister arrived extremely late and demanded that they dig up the coffin so she could see her sister one last time. They dug up the coffin, lifted it from the 6-foot-deep grave, opened the lid, and Essie sat up in her coffin and smiled at her sister.
As you can imagine, chaos immediately ensued. Three men fell into the grave out of sheer shock while Essie’s sister screamed and fled the scene.
5. The German Shoemaker
The case of a 40-year-old German shoemaker (whose name remains unknown) has left the world with a ton of unanswered questions.
When the shoemaker passed away, his family reported his death even though they felt like something wasn’t quite right. He might have appeared dead but, oddly enough, his body didn’t have a stench or any other signs that would suggest that he did pass away.
The family proceeded with the funeral and burial process, and everything was going according to plan.
Shockingly, when the gravedigger was shoveling the dirt on top of the coffin, he suddenly heard a knock on the coffin. The gravedigger acted quickly and removed the man from the coffin.
Upon closer inspection, the shoemaker failed to show any signs that he had died; he had a pulse and his body wasn’t cold. But he also didn’t show any other signs of being alive, such as respirations.
A doctor attempted to revive him but it proved futile, as the shoemaker was declared dead and buried for the second time 3 days later.
4. Angelo Hays
Angelo Hays’ case of premature burial continues to remain a perplexing and shocking story that boggles scientists’ minds.
In 1937, Hays was involved in a brutal motorcycle accident that left him disfigured. The doctors at the hospital declared him dead and they proceeded with his burial 3 days after his “death.”
In a miraculous stroke of luck, his body had to be exhumed 2 days after the funeral for insurance purposes and this is where things took a completely unexpected turn. They realized that his body was still warm and that he was simply in a comatose state and still alive.
3. Eleanor Markham
Eleanor Markham is considered to be one of the most prominent cases of premature burial in the last century.
Markham was only 22 years old when she lost her life–or so they thought. The weather was very mild and accommodating the day she died, so family and friends thought it would be best to say their goodbyes and bury her quickly.
When she was in the coffin, they started hearing a strange noise coming from inside. Luckily, they were able to act fast and unscrew the lid to reveal that Markham was still alive. When she woke up later, she revealed that (unbeknownst to them) she was alive and breathing while they were preparing her for her burial.
2. The Thai Football Team
The story of the Tham Luang Cave is perhaps one of the most popular ones on the list, as it was widely covered and had the world on the edge of their collective seats. The tragedy also garnered some attention thanks to Elon Musk’s controversial tweets.
In June of 2018, a Thai junior football team (along with their 25-year-old coach assistant) had planned to hold a birthday party inside a cave–something they later denied–and found themselves trapped underground after heavy rainfall and subsequent floodwater had blocked their way out.
Once it was discovered that the missing football team was stuck inside the cave, they realized that the rescuers would either have to find a new entrance to the cave or wait for months until the monsoon season came to an end. They began to pump water out of the cave in the hopes that they would be able to hasten the rescue efforts and buy some time before the next monsoon rain. More than 10,000 people participated in the rescue of the boys and two rescuers lost their lives in the process. The team was eventually rescued.
1. Luckmore Hamandishe
In February of 2020, a Zimbabwean group of mine workers found themselves face to face with any mine worker’s worst nightmare; a mine shaft was about to collapse on them and they had no way to escape. The unexpected accident took the lives of many mine workers; however, a 27-year-old man named Luckmore Hamandishe survived the whole ordeal and was able to shed some light on the magnitude of the accident with local rescue volunteers.
Hamandishe revealed that he believed that there were hundreds of mine workers near the area where the mine collapsed, trapping them all underground.
Hamandishe later claimed that authorities didn’t do a thorough job with the rescue operation or with retrieving the bodies of the workers who died as a result of this tragic event. But wait, it gets even worse. The relatives of the missing workers were forced to pay hundreds of dollars to the volunteers in order to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones.