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Crash of an Airbus in Tripoli in 2010: A nine-year-old boy survived


They are considered the "miracles of the Amazon": Four siblings survived 40 days in the Colombian jungle after a plane crash. Search forces discovered footprints as well as diapers and bitten fruits four weeks after the crash, and ten days later the children were found. Apparently, the small plane with them on board had collided with treetops and crashed. It is possible that the collision with the trees slowed down the impact, so that the rear part of the cabin was hardly damaged, which is why the children survived. Her mother, the pilot and an indigenous leader died.

It's not the first time people have spectacularly survived a plane crash. Again and again, individual passengers are able to save themselves from crashed aircraft. Some survived only because they happened to be sitting in the only part of the plane that was not completely destroyed.

2010, Tripoli (Libya): 104 dead, one nine-year-old survived

On May 12, 2010, an Airbus coming from South Africa missed the runway while approaching Tripoli: the plane exploded and was almost completely destroyed, wreckage was everywhere. 103 people on board are killed, only a nine-year-old boy from the Netherlands survives with numerous broken bones. The cause of the accident is probably human error: the pilot and co-pilot may not have agreed on who monitors altitude and who monitors speed.

2009, Comoros: 153 people die, 14-year-old survives clinging to a piece of wreckage

In June 2009, an Airbus A310 of the airline Yemenia Air crashed into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa while landing in the Comoros. There are 153 people on board, including 66 French. Many of them are Comorians who lived in France and wanted to spend their home holidays in the archipelago in the Indian Ocean, one of the poorest and smallest states in the world. Five minutes before the planned landing on the main island of Grande Comore, the Airbus crashes into the Indian Ocean in gusty winds. The cause? The French Secretary of State for Transport speaks of "bad weather" and a "failed landing approach". It is also possible that the aircraft was poorly maintained.

A 14-year-old survived the accident. She clings to a piece of wreckage for hours and is then picked up by one of the boats searching for survivors off the Comorian capital of Moroni in the Indian Ocean. The girl was exhausted, but largely unharmed, says Comorian government spokesman Abdourahim Said Bacar of the dpa news agency: "This is really a miracle."

2003, Port Sudan (Sudan): 115 dead, two-year-old survived wrapped in blankets

In 2003, due to a technical defect, a Boeing 737 crashed into the Red Sea shortly after take-off off from Port Sudan. 115 passengers die, only the two-year-old Mohammed survives. He suffers severe burns and later loses a leg. An expert from the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation in Braunschweig called his survival a "huge coincidence" at the time – and tried to explain the inexplicable: "If a baby is wrapped in blankets and well protected in a carrier, it may have a greater chance of survival than an adult."

1995, Cartagena (Colombia): 52 dead, child is thrown out on impact and survives

Erika Delgado, who was ten years old at the time, was very lucky. It flies on January 12, 1995 from the Colombian capital Bogotá to the coastal city of Cartagena. Shortly before landing, however, the DC-9 of the company Intercontinental de Aviación crashes, the pilot tries an emergency landing, but the maneuver fails. Ten meters from the scene of the accident, farmers find a survivor, only her arm is broken: Erika Delgado was apparently thrown from the plane into the swamp before the crash – and is the only one of the 53 passengers to survive.

1985, Tokyo (Japan): 520 dead, four people survive

When a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 tears off part of its tail unit on a flight from Tokyo to Osaka, there is suddenly a huge hole in the plane. The pressure drops, the machine is no longer maneuverable and crashes in the mountains. 520 people die – four miraculously survive, two of them in the torn-off tail section of the plane: a flight attendant, a twelve-year-old boy, an eight-year-old girl and her mother.

1981, Savitinsk (Soviet Union): 31 die, 20-year-old survives plane collision

On August 24, 1981, the then 20-year-old Larissa Savitskaya is on her way home from her honeymoon. She is sleeping on her husband Vladimir's shoulder when a deafening bang rouses her from her slumber. "Instead of the ceiling, there was only the sky," she later recalled. Her husband next to her is dead. The passenger plane has been rammed in the air by a military bomber and broken apart: side wings and tank have been torn off.

In a tiny part of the plane, only four rows of seats long, Swaitskaya plunges more than five kilometers into the depths. Later, she said that the fall reminded her of the Italian film "Miracles Still Happen", where the film heroine saves herself in a plane crash by clinging to her seat. So that's what she does and crashes into a birch grove.

It was not until three days later that she was found in the wilderness by a search party. Severely injured, the young woman searched for food in the forests, but could hardly chew berries because she lost almost all her teeth in the crash. Apart from her, none of the 31 passengers survived. The Soviet Union is so embarrassed by the incident that the survivor has to remain silent about the accident for more than 20 years.

1972, Andes: 29 die, 16 survive – as cannibals

At an altitude of 4000 meters, Flight 13 crashed into a mountainside on October 1972, 571. There are 45 people on board, including a rugby team. Dozens die on impact. The crash site is located in the middle of the Andes, there are extreme sub-zero temperatures, up to 40 degrees below zero. Eight days after the crash, the authorities give up the search for survivors, and the missing people hear the message over a transistor radio.

For the first few days, the crashes feed on the chocolate and wine they had in their luggage. Then they move on to precisely rationed quantities of toothpaste. After all, they drink aftershave. Then the decision: In order to survive, the crashed athletes break one of humanity's greatest taboos. They eat human flesh – the flesh of their dead friends.

After more than 60 days in the eternal ice of the mountains, the group sends two of the rugby players on an expedition to get help. They wander through snow and ice for ten days, not knowing if they are going in the right direction. Two days before Christmas, they meet a shepherd. Reports about the "Miracle of the Andes" are soon mixed with rumours about the gruesome price for the survival of the 16th. "I sometimes think that we were like animals back then," recalls one survivor.

1971, Rainforest (Peru): 92 die, 17-year-old German survives

On Christmas Eve 1971, a Lockheed L-188A on a domestic flight over Peru was struck by lightning and crashed into the rainforest. For eleven days there is no indication of what happened to the jet, when Indians meet a wandering 17-year-old teenager. She survived in the jungle because, as the daughter of German scientists, she had already taken part in primeval forest expeditions several times. When the search teams find the wreckage of the plane two weeks later, it becomes clear that the girl from Germany is the only survivor of the missing flight.