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12 Extraordinary Events Caught On Live TV

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As media and technology improves, journalism and reporting have been able to capture footage of the most insane global events. Documentation and broadcasting of these shocking, history making moments helps to keep humans connected. Over the years, some monumental and pivotal events have been captured by cameras and live television with viewers sitting at home watching. Some of these moments include:

  • Natural Disasters
  • Crime
  • Death

A lot has happened over the past few decades and it’s important to document and remember these moments in history so that we can learn and move forward from previous mistakes.

The documentation game has changed in recent years with smartphones and social media usage growing rapidly. Anything can be documented and shared with a vast audience, but we’ve compiled a list of the top 12 insane events to take place on live television.  

Lee Harvey Oswald Murder: Following President Kenny’s assassination, former marine Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder of police officer J.D Tippit and later charged for the murder of Kennedy. When being transferred from city jail to county jail, Oswald was fatally shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby and the entire ordeal was captured in plain sight on live television.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster: In what was supposed to be an exciting event to go down in history ended up being a disaster as within seconds of lift off, the Shuttle exploded in mid air. The disaster took place on January 28, 1986 and with Teacher Krista McCallum on board and hundreds of students watching, it was intended to be the first of it’s kind. News of the disaster spread quickly through other networks.

Manila Hostage Crisis: This horrendous event involving a jaded former Police officer from the Philippines named Rolando Mendoza who hijacked a tourist bus carrying 25 people. He believed he had been dismissed unfairly and demanded a fair trial. The ten hour standoff ended in police arresting Mendoza which lead to him opening fire. The bus driver happened to escape but all the passengers and Mendoza died in the shoot off.

The Waco Siege: On April 19th, 1993 a siege took place on a ranch that belonged to a group of “Branch Dravidian”. The group separated from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was led by David Koresh. They lived at the Mount Carmel Center ranch in Elk, Texas. The group was suspected of having firearms and a search and arrest warrant was granted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). After refusing the search, the fiery shoot out ended up becoming a 51 day siege killing 76 people, including Koresh.

The World Series Earthquake:  On October 17, 1989 the first major earthquake in the US was documented due to the coincidence that the World Series was being documented at the same time. The tremor lasted for about 10 to 15 seconds and interfered with the broadcast as it cut in and out. Also known as the Loma Prieta earthquake, it measured 6.9 on the richter scale and caused thousands of injuries and 60 deaths.

The Fall Of The Berlin Wall: Taking nearly thirty years for the wall that divided Eastern and Western Berlin to be destroyed, the event that took place on August 19, 1989 resulted in the efforts of German refugees who protested until officials were forced to open the gates and let people pass through freely with little to no identification. The events aired on television and for weeks people at home watched as Germans worked together to tear the wall down.

 Munich Massacre: This attack took place during the 1972 Summer Olympics. Eleven Israeli Olympic team members were held hostage by a Palestinian terrorist group. News reports were so detailed that the terrorist group had figured out the exact plan of attack. Unfortunately, all eleven of them were eventually killed including a German police officer.

Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami: Referred to as the Great East Japan earthquake, this event categorizes as one of the fourth most powerful earthquakes in the world since modern day record-keeping and the country’s largest ever. The quake caused a powerful tsunami to flood Japan killing thousands and the documented footage is shocking, yet it triggered a worldwide relief response.


The Los Angeles Riots: Also known as the Rodney King riots, the series riots, looting, arson, and civil disturbances went on for six days following the jury trial when four police officers were acquitted for the beating of Rodney King. 55 people were killed during the riots and over 2,000 injured.

Ayrton Senna’s Fatal Crash: on May 1st 1994, this world champion racer suffered in a fatal car accident when his car crashed into a barrier while he was in the lead.

 9/11: The supposed terrorist attack that shook the nation for years to come. The falling of the World Trade center is probably one of the most memorable televised tragedies in recent history. Almost everyone can remember where they were the day that two planes crashed into the buildings. Shortly after the first plane hit, news outlets began live feeds that hooked audiences around the world. It was then that the second plane crashed on live television as reporters scrambled for answers.

Murder Of Alison Parker and Adam Ward: In this tragic event, a former jaded reporter shot news reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward who were employees of the CBS affiliate WDBJ. The two young journalists were shot to death on live television and were the seventh and eighth journalists to have been killed since 1992. The gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan II, had been let go from WDBJ in 2013 for disruptive conduct. After a 5 hour manhunt, Flanagan shot himself and later died in hospital.

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