Studio Minuit Survivors - True Stories

These stories are all unbelievable, yet true. People like you and me have found ourselves in extreme, desperate, dangerous situations, and yet, they have pulled through. Why did they do it? How did they do it? By their ingenuity, their courage, their willpower, all the resources that we carry within us and of which we are not necessarily aware. Each story in "Survivors, True Stories" has a happy ending. So, what about you, in the same situations as our ordinary heroes, do you think you can get through it? These stories are proof that life is sometimes full of hardships, but that there are ways to overcome them, including determination, willpower, mental toughness, and sometimes luck and chance. We have all experienced decisive moments in our lives. Some have made us better. "Survivors : True Stories" is proof that no one is immune to challenges in this life. In these inspiring stories, you will discover:Leonid Rogozov, the doctor who performed appendicitis surgery alone in AntarcticaRicky Megee, who survived 71 days alone in the Australian desertIsabel Godin, who traveled 2,000 miles through the jungle to find her husbandAda Blackjack, who survived alone on a remote island, Wrangel Island, for two yearsand many other incredible stories...

Lady Robinson Crusoe
Lady Robinson Crusoe (00:04:56)
At the beginning of the 20th century, numerous adventurers set out to conquer the poles. They wanted to be the first to discover this or that island, to claim it in the name of their country. Some expeditions were better prepared than others, and many lost their lives in the dreaded Arctic ice. One of the least hospitable Arctic islands is Wrangel, off the coast of Siberia. In 1926, a temperature of - 57°C was recorded there. A real challenge for extreme adventurers (ant that's quite the understatement).
The man who could not be hanged
The man who could not be hanged (00:04:49)
Britain practiced the death penalty by hanging for a long time. It's a quick and clean way to deliver justice. It is also effective. It is indeed rare that the condemned person survives strangulation by the weight of his own body. But it happened to John Lee... three times in a row. It’s strange, very strange, the case of the man who could not be hanged...
Isabel and Jean forever
Isabel and Jean forever (00:03:57)
On October 1st 1769, Isabel Godin des Odonais left her Peruvian hacienda and went deep into the jungle. She was to join her husband in Guyana, whom she had not seen him for twenty years. The expedition had 41 members, including 31 native porters to carry the sixty boxes of luggage through the jungle. The aim was to reach the Amazon, where Doña Isabel's husband had chartered a boat. It was a 1500 mile journey through the jungle, using 18th-century methods. It would be a calamity.
Houston, we have a problem
Houston, we have a problem (00:03:55)
On July 21st, 1969, man walked on the Moon. It was the space age, but sometimes, space exploration turned into a disaster. In 1970, the Apollo 13 mission flew to our satellite but never reached its goal: an explosion forced the astronauts to change their plans and return to Earth as quickly as possible. It was a matter of life and death...
Wandering the outback
Wandering the outback (00:04:38)
The Australian bush is a terribly inhospitable place. Driving through it, why not, but getting lost without food and water is far less appealing. Yet that's what happened to a 35-year-old Australian man who survived 71 days of wandering through this terribly arid desert after being assaulted. He ate locusts and leeches -- it was a matter of life and death.
Twice atomized
Twice atomized (00:04:39)
Japan and the United States ar at war. To force a Japanese resistance, the Americans choose to use atomic weapons. They drop an atom bomb named Little Boy on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, then a second bomb, Fat Man on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The temperature at the centre of the explosion that razed Hiroshima rose to 300,000°C. The number of people killed by the blast, the heat and the subsequent fire storms is difficult to determine, approximations range from 110,000 to 250,000 dead. Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived both attacks.
A seal in lake Michigan
A seal in lake Michigan (00:04:28)
A human body immersed in water that’s frozen at the surface can survive for about 10 minutes. The freezing cold water quickly absorbs body heat, and the metabolism can only resist this thermal shock for a short time. And yet, young Jimmy Tontlewicz, who was declared dead after a 20-minute immersion in the icy waters of Lake Michigan, is alive and well today. It was his body that fought for him: it was, after all, a matter of life and death...
A girl's best friend
A girl's best friend (00:04:37)
No one who has seen Danelle Ballengee can call women “the weaker sex”. She is a great athlete who accumulates challenges and victories. She runs marathons, winter triathlons and mountain races. In 1998, she finishes seventh in the New Zealand Ironman. In 2000, she climbs 55 peaks over 15,000 feet tall in 14 days, 14 hours and 49 minutes. In short, Danelle is an extraordinary woman, an unstoppable champion. And yet, she almost lost her life during a simple training session. She owes her life to her dog...
Safe in his prison
Safe in his prison (00:04:47)
In the month of May 1902, agitation reigns in Saint-Pierre de la Martinique. Mount Pelee has awakened and despite the signs of an imminent eruption, the governor refuses to evacuate the city : in a few days, elections will be held, and he does not want to empty the city of its population. But the people of Saint-Pierre won’t get the opportunity to vote, since the city will be totally destroyed by the volcano. But Louis-Auguste Cyparis, who is languishing in his dungeon, will have his life saved. Surviving a volcanic eruption is no mean feat...
Appendicitis in Antarctica
Appendicitis in Antarctica (00:04:10)
There are places on Earth where you should not get sick. But you can’t choose the day and time to have an attack of appendicitis ! Newly certified doctor Leonid Rogozov spent the winter of 1961 in the Antarctic. Far, far away from any medical assistance other than his own. Poor Leonid, he’d have to grit his teeth before cutting open his belly to take out that nasty infected appendix... it was a matter of life and death.
The 382 day fast
The 382 day fast (00:03:26)
In 1971, Angus Barbieri entered the Guiness Book of World Records for going 382 days without eating. Incredible... Still today, doctors contend that a human being cannot remain more than 80 days without absorbing food, and yet this Scotsman lasted over a year. He owes it all to his extraordinary will to lose weight...
Aron Ralston, hostage of a rock
Aron Ralston, hostage of a rock (00:06:11)
On this particular day, Salt Lake City's emergency services call on Sergeant Mitch Vetere. Accustomed to rescuing lost hikers, he goes to the scene they tell him of without any anxiety. In his 35 years of service however, he has never experienced this...
The autistic child and the river
The autistic child and the river (00:04:44)
It's September 2nd 2021. A family reports the disappearance of their little boy, Anthony, in the community of Putty, in New South Wales, Australia. Quickly, law enforcement sets up a strategy to find this little tot, but it's not going to be easy. There are 3 major problems. He is only 3 years old, he suffers from autism, and above all, Anthony is alone in the bush, an infertile desert known to be deadly...
Thirty years of war, or nothing
Thirty years of war, or nothing (00:04:26)
Obeying the orders of a superior in the army? Yes! But for how long? This is the question that Hiroo Onoda, born in Kamekawa, Japan, on March 19th 1922, should have asked himself. Growing up with his six brothers and sisters, he began working at the age of17 at the Tajima-Yoko Nail Polish Import and Export Company. At the age of 20, when he was called up for military service, his fate changed. Assigned to the 218th infantry regiment in Nanchang, he underwent several months of intensive training to become a real warrior... And he was very obedient !
How to find your family among one billion people
How to find your family among one billion people (00:04:13)
You can be a hero at any age, at least that is what Saroo Brierley, whose real name is Sheru Munshi Khan, teaches us through his story. Born into a very poor family in Khandwa, India, to a father who forced his mother to work in public works and his children to beg in railway stations, and then abandoned the family. One night in 1986, in order to feed their mother and siblings, Saroo and his brother Guddu, after a day of begging at their city’s train station, hop on a train, and then transfer to a second train towards another destination. Saroo falls asleep...
Bahia Bakari, born under a lucky star
Bahia Bakari, born under a lucky star (00:03:52)
On June 29th 2009, Bahia Bakari, 12 years old, gets on a plane for the first time in her life. Accompanied by her mother, she takes off from Paris to go to the Comoros. Unfortunately, the Airbus A310-300 of the company Yemenia Airways will never land... The crash takes place near Grande Comore, in the Indian Ocean, and 152 people lose their lives.
Bombard, the voluntary castaway
Bombard, the voluntary castaway (00:03:52)
The doctor and biologist Alain Bombard, 30 years old, decides to prove 2 things to the world. Firstly, that a human being can live at sea, on a lifeboat without food, without water, with only a tent, a sextant, a fishing line, a net and a knife. According to him, mental strength is what makes you survive! Secondly, that a lifeboat can be seaworthy. A year earlier, to confirm his theories, he decided to coat his body with fat to withstand the cold and swim across the English Channel. And he succeeded! He feels ready for the great adventure.
The hibernator feeds on snow
The hibernator feeds on snow (00:03:51)
The place is Sweden. A few miles from the town of Umeå, close to the Arctic Circle. This municipality is the twelfth largest city in the region and is also known as the capital of Norrland. Two men are riding along on their snowmobile. The temperature outside is -20°F; the men spot, on the forest road in the distance, the roof of a car covered with a thick layer of white powder. They stop and begin clearing the snow, until they discover a man lying on the back seat of the vehicle, in a sleeping bag...
Jack the mad archer
Jack the mad archer (00:03:42)
Jack Churchill graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, in 1926. He left the army in 1936 to become an editor for a daily newspaper in Kenya. Then he branched off into modelling, and even film acting. Indeed, his mastery of medieval weaponry, especially the sword and the bow-and-arrow, landed him roles in 2 movies: Jack Conway’s 1938 comedy “A Yank at Oxford”, and the 1940 adventure film "The Thief of Baghdad".
Orphans of the Titanic
Orphans of the Titanic (00:04:22)
Some people believe everything that happens in the world has been written in advance. If that’s true, then this titanic story hasn’t finished making the rounds! It all began in Southampton on April 10, 1912. Edmond and Michel, natives of Nice in the south of France, were only 2 and 3 years old when they boarded the TITANIC with their father. Their parents were in the process of divorce, and as the cause was adultery, the separation was ugly. Unable to bear the fact that the custody of his sons was going to be entrusted to his future ex-wife, Michel Navratil, decided to take advantage of the Easter vacations to flee to America – more precisely to Chicago – and take his boys with him.
Harrison Okene, nightmare in the kitchen
Harrison Okene, nightmare in the kitchen (00:04:24)
In 2013, Nigerian Harrison Okene was working as a cook on a tugboat: along with other vessels, his boat was working to help a supertanker 30km off the coast of Nigeria. The only problem was a storm. In the early morning of a new day of manoeuvering, a gigantic wave capsized the boat he was on and broke the cable that was holding it to the supertanker.
Joan Murray, saved by pain
Joan Murray, saved by pain (00:03:43)
This American woman had already made about thirty parachute jumps when she jumped out of a plane on September 25, 1999, at an altitude of nearly 4400 meters. However, when she realized that her parachute was defective, she struggled to get rid of it and to activate the emergency one. The latter opened only 200 meters from the ground: Joan Murray fell to the ground at a speed of 130 km/h... If the impact did not kill her, it was because the American had just landed on a huge anthill, relatively cushioning her fall. The ants in question: Solenopsis invecta, commonly known as "fire ants", renowned for their venom, which is among the most painful in the world. One might think that fate is getting the better of poor Joan, but in reality, it is the ants' bites that will save her life.
Julian Koepcke, a christmas miracle
Julian Koepcke, a christmas miracle (00:04:32)
Here is the story of Julian Koepcke : on December 24th, 1971, on board a Peruvian domestic flight, the then 17- year-old girl's life is about to be turned upside down. Juliane and her mother are on their way to join her father at a scientific research station. As the plane flies over the Amazon jungle, it gets caught in a violent storm...
Poon Lim's Odyssey
Poon Lim's Odyssey (00:04:09)
Born in 1918 on a Chinese island, Poon Lim is a young man when the Second World War breaks out. In 1942, he works on a British merchant ship carrying goods across the Atlantic. The ship has left South Africa, heading for Suriname, also known as Dutch Guiana. Although armed, the ship is an easy target because it's not reinforced, it travels alone and it's not adapted for quick manoeuvres in a combat situation...
Flight 571, a hunger for survival
Flight 571, a hunger for survival (00:05:16)
The date is October 12th 1972, and the rugby team from Montevideo - the capital of Uruguay - is on its way to Chile with the staff and families of the players to play a friendly match. Due to bad weather conditions, the plane makes a stopover in Argentina and the next day, Friday October 13th, the Urugayan Air Force Flight 571 takes off again, heading for the city of Santiago del Chile. However, the weather is still bad, and the pilots have to orient themselves mainly with the aircraft's instruments, as visibility is very poor...
Mauro Prosperi, olympic resilience
Mauro Prosperi, olympic resilience (00:05:42)
In the world of ultra trail, the Marathon des sables is one of the most famous races but also one of the most feared. Due of its extreme length - nearly 150 miles - the MdS is completed in 6 timed stages spread over 7 days. Moreover, the Sahara desert, where the race takes place, is particularly hostile and unsuitable for running : sand, rocks and dunes, make the travel challenging ; all in extreme heat (over 110 °F during the day) but with negative temperature once night falls. When Mauro Prosperi, a 38- year-old Italian policeman, flew to Morocco in 1994 to take part in the Marathon des Sables, he was ready...
Mexican fishermen, the mystery of the Pacific
Mexican fishermen, the mystery of the Pacific (00:03:19)
On August 9th 2006, a Taiwanese ocean liner discovers a boat adrift. Three young men from Mexico were onboard : Salvador Ordonez, Jesus Vidana Lopez and Lucio Rendon. The sailors, aged between 27 and 37, must have been touched by grace : they have been drifting for nearly ten months...
Beck Weathers, the Everest miracle man
Beck Weathers, the Everest miracle man (00:04:29)
Beginning in the 1990s, so-called commercial ascents of Everest became quite popular. Amateur climbers led by experienced guides set out to conquer the roof of the world at their own peril. Beck Weathers was one of those passionate, sometimes internally tormented, people who want to live an extraordinary experience. Unfortunately, in May 1996, he almost lost his life...
Chris Lemons, survivor of the abyss
Chris Lemons, survivor of the abyss (00:05:00)
Chris Lemons is professional diver from Scotland. His job : maintenance of underwater gas and oil pipelines and platforms. A hazardous occupation, what with the dangers of decompression and the risks of drowning. In 2012, Chris is with his team in a hyperbaric chamber that would be their home for the next few weeks on board a huge ship : four teams of three divers will take turns on this mission, and Chris is delighted to be reunited with colleagues who have an excellent reputation...
Sergey Ananov, the bear chaser
Sergey Ananov, the bear chaser (00:04:07)
Sergey Ananov is a seasoned adventurer. But nothing could have prepared him for what he endured in the summer of 2015. On July 25th of that year, he boards his helicopter alone, heading for Greenland. It is day 42 of his round-the-world helicopter trip. The Russian wants to become the first person to circle the globe in a helicopter weighing less than a ton. He does not have many miles left to go. Halfway through his 6-hour flight, flying over the icy Canadian Arctic, his helicopter has a technical problem while crossing a thick fog. Sergey is forced to attempt an emergency landing...
Waiting it out
Waiting it out (00:04:28)
On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It was one of the most powerful hurricanes in the history of the United States, a category 5, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Such intensity caused extensive property damage and cost over 1,800 people their lives. Some of the remaining residents of New Orleans managed to escape. One astonishing case is undoubtedly that of Gerald Martin, 76 years old, found alive 18 days after the the hurricane’s passage.
A scientific oddity
A scientific oddity (00:03:59)
Barely protected beneath its skull, the human brain is a fragile little thing that does not usually appreciate being pierced. And yet, the American Phineas Gage survived not a simple bullet impact but a 3-foot long crowbar that went straight through his brain. His case has been studied by scientists ever since...
The Andean survivor
The Andean survivor (00:04:06)
At the end of the 1920s, crossing the Atlantic was a challenge, that only a few daredevils managed to accomplish. Among them were the pioneers of the Aéropostale, the well-known mail-carrying airline of the early days of aviation. Henri Guillaumet was a regular on the South American crossings. Until his 92nd, which proved to be one too many. Poor Henri, would have to be very resistant, indeed, to cross the snowy Andes Cordillera on foot... it was a matter of life or death.
438 days of drift
438 days of drift (00:04:24)
We all know the story of Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked on a deserted island. He must have found time very long. But there are worse things than being alone on an island : there is the story of the man who drifted almost alone on a 23-foot boat for over fourteen months. He struggled against hunger, thirst and madness. It was a matter of life or death.
Bitten (00:04:10)
The date is May 23rd 1971. Nicole Viloteau, 25 years old, is a journalist and a photographer. She is also a snake-lover. During a road trip with friends, she takes an inventory of the pet snakes she’s brought along with her. They all look half-stunned by the heat. She opens one of the bags, labeled Elaphe obsoleta, the non-venomous rat snake. But instead, a rattlesnake pops out -- and immediately, it bites Nicole on the lip ! Something has to be done. It's a matter of life and death.
Taking a lethal seat
Taking a lethal seat (00:04:12)
Decapitation, stoning, hanging... Human justice has invented many ways to enforce capital punishment. In the United States, electrocution was for a long time the most common finish line for death row inmates. It is difficult to escape unharmed. But that’s exactly what happened to Willie Francis in May of 1946...
The raft of death
The raft of death (00:04:51)
On June 17th, 1816, L'Écho, L'Argus, La Loire and La Méduse set sail for Saint-Louis in Senegal. This expedition was to take possession of the colonies that France had before the Revolution. It was led by an incompetent aristocrat : Hugues Duroy de Chaumareys. La Méduse, an 150-ft long frigate, carried 395 people, mostly soldiers and sailors. On board were stocks of food for the colony, two longboats with a capacity of 100 passengers each, canoes and a skiff. The expedition, however, was a total disaster...
The Antarctic Hero
The Antarctic Hero (00:04:35)
The South Pole, what an adventure ! In 1911, the Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first to reach it. A few years later, the Irishman Ernest Shackleton decided to cross the Antarctic continent from end to end, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea : 1800 miles on his dogsled...
Lady Robinson Crusoe