TNB Night Owl – Rope Safety

Tug of War at the U.S. Naval Academy, photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Ryan Child

Tug-of-War is an easy and internationally recognized activity. As noted during a previous Night Owl, it even has its own regulatory authority. It’s still basically a few people pulling a rope back and forth, though. It can lead to rope burns on the hands, injuries caused by losing balance and falling, and in some cases, where people have unwisely wrapped the rope around their hands in direct refutation of all warnings and recommendations, even lost fingers.

And then, in 1997, it cost some people their arms. For a little while, at least.

Taiwan celebrates “Retrocession Day” every October 25. It commemorates the end of Japanese rule and there are local events held throughout the nation. In 1997 one of the event was a giant tug-of-war held at a park along the Keelung River. Over 750 people participated on each team, trying to pull a nylon rope the required distance from the starting point.

Anyone who spent time in the Navy after the 1970s has an idea of what’s coming. That’s because we all watched this video:

The stress put upon the nylon rope greatly exceeded its strength. Within seconds of the start of the event the rope snapped. Two men, Yang Chiung-ming and Chen Ming-kuo, had the rope snap backward from the break, severing their left arms just below their shoulders.

There are pictures of the aftermath available on the internet. I did not include them out of deference to people who dislike images of gore just before trundling off to bed.

Because a hospital was nearby, both of the victims survived the incident – and survived with a working pair of arms. Surgeons at the hospital were able to perform not one, but two simultaneous marathon session microsurgeries to successfully reattach the arms of both participants.

Question of the night: What’s your most pleasant outdoor festival experience?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.