Often when we hear about a miraculous “lone survivor” it ends up in a flood of mixed emotions. For those families and loved ones who hear about a certain fatality, they cling on the silent hope that perhaps that lone survivor is their loved one. On the other hand, when we hear of such incidents, we are always overwhelmed with both joy and sadness. Joy is felt for the fact that the person survived and sadness for the fact that countless other people perished away simply in seconds. Here we have compiled a list of some unbelievable and miraculous lone survivors from recent plane crashes. Starting from the most recent one:
1. Ruben van Assouw - The Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771 Crash 12th May 2010
On 12th May, 2010, a deadly plane crash in Libya killed approximately one hundred people. Miraculously, a ten year old Dutch boy escaped death and remains to be the sole survivor of the plane crash. Ruben van Assouw, was hospitalized for three days and after recovery from his surgery he was flown back to his resident city of Tilburg. Once he was in a stable condition, he was told that his parents along with his older brother had perished in the crash. Assouw’s family was returning from a trip to South Africa, where they had gone to celebrate the 12 1/2 year wedding anniversary; a Dutch tradition. Rescuers found the boy strapped to his seat about half a mile away from the debris of the plane. He was severely wounded with both of his legs broken. On 15th of May, 2010, he was transferred via an ambulance by air to Eindhoven, Netherlands. The ten year old boy was escorted on the flight by his aunt and uncle.
2. Baya Bakari - The Yemeni Plane Flight IY-261 Crash 30th June 2009
A Fourteen year old girl by the name of Baya Bakari, was rescued after twelve long hours of being trapped in the Indian Ocean after the crash of a Yemeni Plane on 1st June, 2009. She was the lone survivor of the crash that took the lives of over a hundred and fifty people, including her mother. It is reported that Baya held on to the debris of the plane in the stormy shark infested Indian Ocean for more than ten hours. The little girl was rescued and taken to a hospital in Morani. Baya’s father, Kassim Bakari told the media at their home in Corbell Essones south of Paris, that Baya had suffered a fractured collarbone and a few burns on her knee. However, no life threatening injuries were reported either by her father or the doctors, as she had been very luckily ejected from the plane upon impact.
3. James M. Polehimke - The Kentucky Comair Flight 191 Crash 27th August 2006
His plane was decelerating on approach towards the supposed runway at Kentucky Airport. James M. Polehimke, the co-pilot, noted that it seemed strangely odd that there were no approach lights on the runway. However, James and the captain did not once attempt to abort approach, contact the tower and go around. They pressed on towards the runway ahead not realizing that they had made an approach on the wrong airstrip. The Comair regional jet landed on the wrong runway. Consequently, it rammed into the trees in the overshoot of this runway and practically anything that came in its path. It exploded into flames. The incident took the lives of all on board except the co-pilot. The final tally of lives lost was 49 out of 50. Polehinke went through some extremely critical surgeries. Mystifyingly, to date, Polehinke is unable to recall what really happened that day.
4. Mohammed el-Fateh Osman – The Sudan Airway Flight 139 Crash 8th July 2003
Nearly ten minutes after takeoff from Port Sudan, the pilot of the Sudan Airways radioed the control tower about an engine failure. In that emergency call, the pilot announced that he was going to return back to the airport. Sadly, the Sudanese airliner hit a hillside while attempting to make the emergency landing. The crash resulted in killing 116 people and left only a three year old, Mohammed el-Fateh Osman, as the lone survivor in the middle of a scene that was filled with corpses. The little boy was found by a local, injured and lying on a fallen tree. Little Mohammed lost his mother in the crash and also a part of his lower leg.
5. Youcef Djillali – The Air Algerie Flight 6289 Crash 6th March 2003
Air Algerie Flight 6289, was a listed passenger service of Air Algerie connecting Tamanrasset, Algeria and Algiers, through Ghardaia. On 6th March 2003, the flight attempted a departure from the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset. The plane swerved off the runway during the takeoff and crashed some 600 feet from the centerline. The witnesses present at the time of the crash reported seeing one of the 737’s engines in a gulf of flames just as it had taken off. There were 97 passengers and 6 crew members on board, of which only one survived. A total of 102 people died in the crash. The lone survivor of the crash was a 28 year old soldier Youcef Djillai, who suffered critical burns and injuries but miraculously survived such a heinous crash.
6. Ericka Delgado – The Intercontinental Airline Flight DC-9 Crash on 13th January 1995
On 13th January 1995, when the Intercontinental Airliner took off, it unexpectedly exploded in mid air as the pilot was attempting an emergency landing near a swamp. After the explosion the remains were strewn across a lagoon below. A farmer who was standing nearby, when the incident took place, reported to have heard cries of anguish and help. He found a nine year old girl, Erika Delgado, on a mound of seaweed, which had helped in breaking her fall. The rescuers reported that Erika remembered her mother shoving her out of the plane as it broke up and burst into a gulf of flames. She was taken to the hospital in a state of complete shock with a broken arm. The crash killed 51 people, with Erika Delgado being the sole survivor of the crash.
7. Cecelia Cichan – The Northwest Airlines Flight 255 Crash on 16th August 1987
After the doom-destined plane took off from the Metro Airport, during its early climb, the plane suddenly rolled nearly 35 degrees to port side. The left wing of the plane struck a few light poles about half a mile away from the end of the runway. On its way it also struck a car’s roof and a rental building before it finally crashed on the ground. A little girl named Cecelia Cichan was found by the rescue workers tightly tied to her seat about several feet away from her parents and her six year old brother’s dead bodies. The survival of Cecelia has been considered to be a complete miracle. The reason for the crash has been blamed on the flight crew’s failure to follow the correct taxi checklist, to ensure that the flaps and the slats were properly extended before takeoff.
8. Neuba Yessoh – The Varig Flight 797 Crash on 3rd January 1987
The Varig Flight 797 was planned from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire’s to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On 3rd January 1987, the airplane horrifically crashed on the terrain below and killed all 12 crew members and 38 of the 39 passengers on board. When the plane departed from Abidjan, it developed a few problems with the aircraft’s left engine. Whilst returning to its scheduled destination, the plane crashed into the jungle that was some 18 kilometers away from the airport. Four days after the crash had taken place, a passenger named Ahmad Wansa who was a British citizen and was critically injured in the crash passed away while on board a Swiss aircraft while arriving in Paris for treatment. The only remaining survivor of the crash was identified as Ivory Coast University Professor Neuba Yessoh. He suffered from severe burns but they were on less than 20 percent of his body.
9. Vesna Vulovic - Jugoslovenski Aero transport JAT flight 367 Crash on 1972
The overall circumstances and the unbelievable story of the lone survivor of the Jugoslovenski Aero transport crash is simply marveling. Vesna Vulovic was a flight attendant onboard the ill-fated flight when a bomb went off at an altitude of 33,000 feet. It was a plain act of terrorism and was credited to the Croatian Ustashe terrorists. The massive explosion tore the jet off into several pieces in mid-air. The wreckage of the jet fell off the sky for three minutes before finally hitting a frozen mountainside. A German man found Vesna lying half outside of the wrecked plane with another crew member’s body on top of her. Luckily the man who found her was a medic in World War II. He did all that he could for Vesna before rescue teams arrived. She had suffered an intensely fractured skull, two broken legs and three broken vertebrae; this left her temporally paralyzed from waist down. After the rescue teams arrived, she was taken to the hospital for treatment. It was later noticed that her flight schedule that day had been mixed up with another flight attendant who shared the same name as her, and was subsequently placed on the wrong flight. Vesna Vulovic holds the Guinness World Record for surviving the highest fall without the use of a parachute. She is also regarded as a national heroine in the former Yugoslavia.
10. Juliane Koepcke – Peruvian Airliner LANSA Flight 508 Crash on 24th December 1971
On the Christmas Eve of 1971, the Peruvian Airliner took off from the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima on a flight to Pucallpa, Peru. After nearly half an hour of the take off, at 21,000 feet the plane was engulfed in heavy thunderstorm which resulted in massive turbulence. The planewas struck by lightning. The pilots had extreme difficulty in handling the aircraft and soon the aircraft went into a spiral dive. The aircraft came crashing down in a mountainous region of the Amazon. 91 people were killed in the crash. Phenomenally, Juliane Koepke, a 17 year old German, survived the crash and was still strapped in her seat. She had been sitting with her mother on the flight. After the crash, Juliane searched extensively for her mother for nine days through the dense Amazon jungle. However, all her efforts went in vain. On the ninth day of the crash, she found a canoe and a shelter. Just hours later then, a few local lumbermen spotted her and took her final seven hour journey via the canoe down the river to a lumber station. There she was airlifted and taken to a hospital. Juliane Koepk, today is a successful biologist in Germany.