Top 10 CRAZIEST EVENTS Ever Caught on LIVE TV
We typically turn to television to escape it all, to leave behind the nuances of life that get us down. Sometimes, the entertainment tube betrays us and filters the worst of the world right into our living room, making it difficult to avoid things like these ten shocking events that were caught on live television.
2011 Japanese Tsunami
After a magnitude-9.0 earthquake shook off the coast of Honshu, Japan on March 11th, 2011, all eyes turned to Japan’s vulnerable coast as warnings of an incoming destructive tsunami followed. The 15 minutes residents had to abandon their homes and prepare for the incoming waves proved not to be enough, especially as 30-feet or roughly 9-meter waves crashed onto the mainland, laying waste to property and causing a failure and a level-7 nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Helpless, the rest of the world watched as the region of Tohoku was decimated, leading to a total of over 20,000 deaths and damages upwards of $300 billion.
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on August 29th, 2005 on the Gulf Coast of the United States, was heavily televised - even throughout the world. As the storm pounded the coast of Louisiana, the levees aimed at protecting New Orleans from flooding took the brunt of the force, eventually collapsing under the pressure of the rising waters. The city was quickly flooded and the cameras turned on, giving the nation a look at the $100 billion in damage that was being done in real-time. The media kept eyes on the small sliver of the gulf as homes were washed away, chronicling the 1,836 lives that were lost and fueling the claims that the United States government was far too slow to act.
Challenger Space Shuttle
Prior to January 28th, 1986, NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger had experienced nine successful launches and spent 62 days in space over a two-year period. On its final mission, which was to launch from and land at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Challenger’s crew was scheduled to launch the second Tracking and Data Relay Satellite and partake in the first flight of the Shuttle-Pointed Tool for Astronomy / Halley’s Comet Experiment Deployable. The ship’s crew included six professional astronauts and Sharon Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian to fly into space and member of the Teacher in Space Program. As millions watched in the comfort of their homes, the shuttle commenced its launch, but after only 73 seconds, it exploded, killing its entire on-board crew on live television.
1972 Olympic Massacre
The Olympics are often a means of uniting the world for a series of competitive sporting events, but even otherwise friendly opposition can turn into a devastating mark in history. In 1972, during the Summer Olympics in West Germany, Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization took eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage and demanded the release of 234 prisoners. The two-day stalemate was broadcast, inadvertently providing the terrorists a look at the actions of armed forces and giving them an edge. The hostage situation culminated in a failed rescue attempt at the NATO airbase, Furstenfeldbruck, where the massacre ultimately occurred. At the end of the conflict, 17 in total were killed, including 11 members of the Olympic team, five Black September members, and a West German policeman.
Iranian Embassy Siege
On April 30th, 1980 six armed members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan took 26 hostages at the Iranian embassy in South Kensington. During the siege, the gunmen demanded the release of prisoners in Khuzestan, independence for Khuzestan, and a safe passage out of the United Kingdom. For a period of six days, tensions mounted at the embassy as the standoff between the Special Air Service forces and the DRFLA members remained unwavering. On May 5th, with cameras aimed at the building, infuriated by the lack of progress, the gunmen killed a hostage and threw him from the embassy, inciting action from the SAS soldiers, who stormed the embassy and engaged in a 17-minute struggle. When the gunfire died down, five of the DRFLA members were dead and two hostages were lost.
Destroying Saddam Hussein's Statue
From 1979 to 2003, Saddam Hussein served in office as the Prime Minister of Iraq. During his reign, the Iraqi leader is said to have been responsible for the deaths of over 250,000 Iraqis, inciting genocides against those that opposed him. On his 65th birthday in April of 2002, a statue of Saddam was erected in Firdos Square in Baghdad, and for a year it stood at 39-feet or roughly 12-meters tall. Claiming Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, the United States launched an invasion of Iraq in 2003, leading to the eventual toppling of Saddam’s statue. In April of 2003, as United States Marines moved in on Firdos Square, Iraqi civilians started to attack the statute, garnering the attention of the Marines who pulled the statue down. Televised and heavily covered by journalists, the event has received criticism for being possibly staged, with correspondent Robert Fisk describing it “the most staged photo-opportunity since Iwo Jima.”
Fall of the Berlin Wall
In August of 1961, during a time when Germany was divided into the East and West, East German soldiers erected a near 12-foot or 3.6-meter high, 96-mile or 154-kilometer long wall that acted as a physical representation of the split that occurred after World War II. The Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic aimed to separate themselves from the “fascists” of the West, dubbing the wall the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall.” For 28 years, the wall remained intact until 1989, when the Soviet Union reduced its control of nations of the Warsaw Pact through the Sinatra Doctrine. On November 9th, 1989, the head of the East German Communist Party allowed members of the GDR to cross the border without fear of repercussion, and soon after, the wall was physically dismantled in a celebration caught on camera for all to see.
Manila Hostage Crisis
Even those that are sworn to protect us can become unhinged and snap, leading to events like the Manila hostage crisis. In Rizal Park, Manila in the Philippines, national police officer Rolando Mendoza hijacked a tour bus filled with 25 people. Feeling he was fired from his position for unjust reasons, Mendoza demanded a fair hearing, though his methods of obtaining one were extreme. Brandishing an M16, Rolando held the passengers and drivers hostage and, despite ongoing negotiations, the situation fell apart when the disgruntled former officer heard his brother was arrested. A 90-minute, televised gunfight ensued, leaving 8 hostages and Mendoza dead.
Lee Harvey Oswald Murder
Before the death of American President John F. Kennedy, allegedly by the hands of shooter Lee Harvey Oswald, Jacob Leonard Rubenstein, or Jack Ruby, was known in Dallas, Texas as the owner of the Carousel Club. After the death of Kennedy, Ruby’s life changed drastically and his final days as a free man were spent planning the death of the president’s accused assassin. Ruby had been caught on camera on several occasions at the Dallas Police Headquarters, in one instance impersonating a newspaper reporter on the night of Kennedy’s death. On November 24th, 1963, two days after the assassination, Ruby entered the basement of the police headquarters where Oswald was being escorted to an armored car for transport, and, as much of the nation watched, shot the assassin with a snub-nosed pistol.
Felix's SkyDive Record
On October 14th, 2012, Austrian BASE jumper and daredevil Felix Baumgartner entered a helium balloon to attempt something dangerous, death-defying, and arguably foolish. At an altitude of 128,000 feet or roughly 39,000 meters, Felix achieved what was then the world record for skydiving by jumping from his vessel for a heart-stopping dive towards Earth. The televised slow climb built up anticipation for those engrossed by the broadcast before Felix launched himself into a freefall. At his highest speed, the stuntman reached an estimated 833 miles or 1,342 kilometers per hour, making him the first man to break the speed of sound in a freefall.