It could happen on the most ordinary of days - going wild-mushroom hunting with a bunch of friends, going to work in a mine, going fishing for tuna - and all of a sudden, you're in a fight for survival. Here are some who defied the odds.
Trapped miners
Thirty-three men (see video) were trapped Aug. 5 after a landslide caused a gold and copper mine in Chile's Atacama Desert (see where) to collapse. There were cheers worldwide when the miners sent a note to the surface on Aug. 22 saying they were alive. Though rescue drilling is under way, the miners might be confined in a 600-square-foot space about 2,300 feet down until this holiday.
Plane crash survivors
Only one person died when a Boeing 737-700 split into three parts (see image) while landing on a Caribbean island. The Aires flight from Bogota to San Andres carrying more than 100 passengers and crew, got caught in a storm and might have been hit by lightning.
Surviving animal encounters
A 2-year-old girl (see image) came face to face with an escaped Bengal tiger at a Florida exotic animal park until her mom scooped her up and took her to safety. The tiger had apparently leaped from his enclosure after being taunted by an escaped white-handed gibbon.
Surviving fall from a building
A 22-year-old man fell from a New York City building landing feet first in a Dodge Charger (see image). He was taken to a hospital, where he was stable after he underwent surgery.
Wilderness survivors
After a diabetic grandmother who went on a mushroom-finding expedition got lost, Canadian authorities mounted a search Her family was worried because she faced harsh conditions in a Manitoba forest, and she needed her insulin.
Oil rig explosions
A helicopter was among those reporting an oil platform explosion off the coast of Louisiana in about 340 feet of water, south of this bay, and rescuers were dispatched. They found that all 13 men on the rig had jumped into the water there wasn't time to launch life rafts -- and all were safe.
Lung transplant
A 2-year-old Eldon, Mo., boy's heart and lungs were failing when he arrived at St. Louis Children's Hospital in June. He needed a transplant, but no donor organs were available. His doctors got permission to implant one of these.
Lost at sea
A man from Papua New Guinea had planned to go fishing for tuna when his boat was swept out to sea. He survived for three weeks by eating and drinking this before he was spotted.
Premature birth
A woman in Australia gave birth to twins -- prematurely -- at 27 weeks. The girl survived, doctors said, but the boy didn't. She and her husband wanted to say goodbye, and she did this sweet gesture.
No one was more surprised than they were when this happened.