These two men suffered a terrible fate after a game of tug-of-war

The men were playing the game as part of Retrocession Day celebrations back in 1997, but it ended in complete disaster.

men had arms ripped off during tug-of-war
© Chronicle / 20th Century Studios
men had arms ripped off during tug-of-war

TW: This article contains graphic content which some may find distressing.

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We all love a spirited game in the name of sportsmanship. Some of them, especially in the UK, are verging on the ridiculous. Cast your mind back to sports day at school, complete with the risky egg-and-spoon race as well as the good old sack race. It’s important to take part in these games, even if they seem silly - we all remember Lady Diana’s iconic barefoot run at Prince Harry's school sports day.

However, fun ideas do sometimes go horribly wrong. We recently told you about the man who died after being dared to eat a slug, and now we’ll tell you about two unfortunate men who lost their arms during a game of tug-of-war.

The treacherous game

This happened back in 1997, in a park along the Keelung River in Taipei. An event was organised to celebrate Retrocession Day, an annual observance in Taiwan to commemorate the end of Japanese rule of Taiwan and Penghu, and the so-called retrocession (return) of Taiwan to the Republic of China in 1945. A massive game of tug-of-war was organised, with 1,600 people joining in to play.

As both sides heaved in opposite directions, a humongous 80,000 kg of pressure built in the 5cm nylon rope they were holding. It could only withstand 26,000 kg, and snapped within seconds. The men are said to have taken a beat before they even noticed the terrible accident that had happened. The pictures that document the incident are truly horrifying.

The men saw their arms removed

Two men playing the game obviously had no idea there was so much pressure built up in the rope. However, somehow, when the material snapped, their arms were removed from their bodies. Yes: removed. The images were too graphic to be included in this article, but they show the severed limbs next to the victims.

The men were swiftly taken to Mackay Memorial Hospital and underwent hours of microsurgery to re-connect their arms. Doctors were able to 'stick' their arms back on, though the experience was extremely traumatic for them as well as for observers.

This is not the first time that people playing this game have lost parts of their body in the process. In California, a teenage boy and girl were also taking part in a tug-of-war when the rope snapped. The pair had wrapped the rope around their fingers and somehow the tension of the cord had torn their fingers from their bodies. A fellow student said at the time that youngsters 'cheered at first because they thought it was funny that the rope broke, but then they realized what really happened'. Another added:

They were just both in shock, staring at their hands. They didn't know what to do.

The pair of teens were taken to hospital and thankfully also made a full recovery.

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Sources used:

UniLad: Two men lost their arms in brutal tug-of-war that went badly wrong

CBS News: So. Cal. tug-of-war turns gruesome for two

Man 'locked' inside his own body for 10 years heard his mum reveal this terrible desire Man 'locked' inside his own body for 10 years heard his mum reveal this terrible desire