Krishna Thompson saw the fin, felt the chomp and felt himself being pulled underwater. His first thought? "I can't believe there's a shark on my leg!" Held hostage by a bank robber, Paul Hardy grabbed the gun and fought for his life ("He started biting my hand and arm; money was flying everywhere). Peter Beard couldn't outrun a stampeding elephant ("Her tusk went right through my thigh"), Marc Dupavillion's sloop was no match for a 70-foot wave (The boat just lifted out of the water and got slammed on its side) Edna Wilks wishes she hadn't gone swimming that night in Florida ("I saw the alligators head; I didnt have time to scream). From shark bites and lightning strikes to tidal waves, tornadoes, a deadly Mount Everest blizzard, a mountain lion attack, Pearl Harbor, the Titanic and a 14,000-foot fall without a parachute, PEOPLE's Amazing Stories of Survival presents the best I-was-there, here's-what-it-felt-like, I-can't-believe-I-lived-through-it tales from the magazine's first thirty years.