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This is useful for example if you are on ssh in a server and the server goes down without letting you out.
This is part of a larget sets of escape sequences provided by ssh. You can find them with ~? Here's the list:
~. - terminate connection (and any multiplexed sessions)
~B - send a BREAK to the remote system
~C - open a command line
~R - request rekey
~V/v - decrease/increase verbosity (LogLevel)
~^Z - suspend ssh
~# - list forwarded connections
~& - background ssh (when waiting for connections to terminate)
~? - this message
~~ - send the escape character by typing it twice
(Note that escapes are only recognized immediately after newline.)