Experience the pulse-pounding moments behind some of the world’s greatest disasters, reliving the incredible stories of those that faced split-second decisions that made the difference between life and death. MAKE IT OUT ALIVE brings viewers back to these catastrophes and tells the stories of these events by recounting both the horrific and heroic tales of human sacrifice, bravery and survival. This new series features ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances – in the center of disasters both man-made and natural – and offers compelling insights into the moments before and after disaster strikes. A special sneak peek of MAKE IT OUT ALIVE will be available on Saturday, October 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT ahead of the series premiere on Sunday, October 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.
Through dramatic recreations, rarely seen archival footage and amazing personal survivor testimony, MAKE IT OUT ALIVE features incredible stories of survival and of the lives that were lost during these tragic, life-changing moments. Who will survive, and how?
The premiere episode, “Mount St. Helens,” brings viewers back to the May 18, 1980 volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in Skamania County, Washington – the volcano’s first eruption in over a century. Erupting with a blast equivalent to 27,000 atomic bombs, everything within an eight-mile radius was obliterated or carried away. Caught in the middle of clouds of hot ash, smoke and falling rocks are the scientists studying the volcano, an elderly resident living nearby and campers who thought they were safe outside of the danger zone.
Subsequent episodes of MAKE IT OUT ALIVE are:
San Francisco Quake
Premieres Sunday, October 22 at 9 PM ET/PT
When a magnitude 6.9 earthquake strikes San Francisco in 1989, the city is thrown into chaos. With houses toppling to the ground, entire neighborhoods going up in flames and the top deck of the Cypress Freeway collapsing onto commuters trapped in their cars, the minute-long earthquake caused catastrophic damage to the Bay Area, killing 67 people and causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage. As rescue services struggled to manage the destruction, five characters at the heart of the disaster were forced to fight for their own survival.
Premieres Sunday, October 29 at 9 PM ET/PT
On the evening of May 3, 1999, the residents of Oklahoma City were hit with a devastating tornado. Over the course of 85 minutes, the tornado covered 38 miles – sucking people and cars into the air, flattening homes and ripping up roads. The storm destroyed thousands of homes, left behind more than one billion dollars in damage and killed 41 people. Caught in the tornado’s path were a young mother and child in a mobile home, a family trapped in a culvert, a father and son sheltering in a closet and scientists tracking the storm’s every move.
Oil Rig Explosion
Premieres Sunday, November 5 at 9 PM ET/PT
On a warm summer night in July 1988, the Piper Alpha oil rig in the middle of the North Sea was the scene of the world’s deadliest offshore accident. After a pipe malfunction left gas leaking, an explosion was triggered, which, as the gas pipes melted in the ensuing blaze, became a series of massive blasts. With over 300-foot-high flames, helicopter rescue was not an option for the 230 men on board – workers were forced to battle their way through the smoke and fire-filled labyrinth of the Piper Alpha oil rig in order to survive.
Premieres Sunday, November 12 at 9 PM ET/PT
At midnight on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was sailing west on the Pacific toward the Philippines with 1,197 men on board when it was hit with two Japanese torpedoes. Within 12 minutes, the ship was at the bottom of the ocean and 900 men were left floating in shark-infested waters. Over the course of the next four days, the sailors struggled through dehydration, starvation, exposure and shark attacks in an astonishing tale of human survival.
Premieres Sunday, November 19 at 9 PM ET/PT
On October 9, 1963, the Vajont Dam in northern Italy was the scene of incredible devastation. In just 45 seconds, a massive landslide of forest, earth and rock collapsed into the reservoir, sending an 820-foot-high wave of water flowing towards the dam wall. This tsunami of water blasted over the top of the dam, crashing into the valley and rushing towards the villages below, where thousands of unknowing residents were living. Follow the journeys of a handful of men, women and children who found themselves in the path of disaster.