Odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 10.87 million. However, the odds of surviving a plane crash are even lower. Luck, fate, guardian angel – what do you think? There are several air disasters in which everyone on the plane was killed but one. A single person somehow survived. Here are a some instances where there was only one survivor left after a plane crash.
12. Ruben von Assouw
A plane crash in 2010 in Libya was a tragedy. The Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 went down with 104 passengers and 11 crew. Everyone on the plane died in the crash but one : the sole survivor was Ruben von Assouw, a 9-year old boy traveling with his family, who was on his way to the holiday of a lifetime to see real African animals in the wild. He somehow managed to escape the disaster alive. It has not been discovered exactly what the circumstances were for this to happen, but they had to be incredible to allow him to survive. Reports said that Ruben had feebly shouted “Holland, Holland!” to draw attention to those who found him in the early hours after the crash that occurred shortly before 6.am on the east runway of Tripoli International Airport.
11. Annette Herfkens
On November 14, 1991, Annette Herfkens was the only survivor in the crash of a Vietnam Airlines plane carrying 25 passengers and 6 crew members. During the flight, the plane was flying too low and hit a mountain in Vietnam. Herfkens lay in the wreckage area for eight days until rescue teams were able to reach her. She suffered from numerous injuries, but kept herself alive by drinking rainwater.
Herfkens has stated that she heard voices from other passengers and crew members on the plane after the crash, but by the time rescue workers were able to reach her all of them had died from their injuries.
10. James Polehinke
On August 27, 2006, Delta Connection Flight 5191, headed from Lexington, KY to Atlanta GA, carrying 47 passengers and 3 crew members. The plane was first set to use Runway 22 for takeoff but somehow found itself on Runway 26, which was much shorter than the one planned – 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) shorter. Because of this, before the plane could even lift off the runway, it ran out of room, running off the runway and eventually crashing. All of the passengers died, but one crew member lived, James Polehinke. Polehinke was the first officer of the plane and suffered very serious injuries including a collapsed lung, numerous broken bones, and heavy bleeding. His left leg was amputated and Polehinke does not remember the event or anything leading up to it as a result of brain damage.
9. Bahia Bakari
Yemenia flight 626 was on approach to Comoros on June 30, 2009 when it was hit by strong winds that caused the pilots to lose control of the plane, crashing into the ocean. All 152 people were killed, but you 14-year old Bahia Bakari survived. She was somehow ejected from the plane to a safe zone in the water and, despite the fact she couldn’t swim, found a piece of wreckage to cling on to. The crash occurred at 1:50am on a moonless night, so Bahia was in pitch blackness for the first several hours of her ordeal. After floating for 13 hours, exhausted and dehydrated, she was rescued by a Comoran ferry participating in the search effort.
8. Vesna Vulovi?
JAT Flight 367 was cruising over Czechoslovakia on January 26, 1972. Vesna was a flight attendant going about her duties when the plane suddenly broke apart in midair from a bomb in the front baggage compartment. The wreckage fell to the ground some 30,000 feet below. Vesna was found alive and there has never been an explanation of how it could have been possible. She remembers nothing of the incident, but was left with a fractured skull, two broken legs and three broken vertebrae and was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. She eventually regained use of her legs and even continued to work for JAT for several years until being let go due to her political views. (She didn’t like Slobodan Miloševi? very much) She is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest fall without a parachute.
7. Martin Farkas
The only military aircraft crash featured on this list, the Antonov An-24 met its demise on January 19, 2006. The plane was boarded by 44 Slovak peacekeepers, but only 1 of them would make it out alive. The aircraft was downed after it hit tree tops which then caused it to catch fire. It crashed in a heavily forested terrain known as Borso Hill- about 23,000 feet (7 km) high and covered by snow. After the plane crashed, First Lieutenant Martin Farkas found his cell phone, contacted his wife and alerted her to contact rescue services. Soon after he was rescued from the cold and taken to a hospital with lung injuries and brain swelling. To allow his body to heal, he was put into a medically induced coma until he was in a s table condition.
During the time of the crash, Farkas was found in the plane’s bathroom, which may have saved his life, as this part of the plane had very little damage.
6. Cecelia Cichan
On August 16, 1987, a Northwest Airlines flight going from Detroit to Phoenix crashed during takeoff. The crash killed 154 of the 155 passengers. The lone survivor was 4-year-old Cecelia. She was found alive buckled in her seat among the burning wreckage. Early press releases indicated that Cecelia survived because her mother shielded her at impact, but they were later debunked. One FTSB employee, a veteran of 20 plane crash investigations, was unable to explain how she survived. “I have never seen such complete destruction. There is not a bone left intact in the bodies.”
5. Erika Delgado
On March 17, 1995, an Intercontinental de Aviacion DC-9 crashed into a marsh 37 miles short of the airport. Erika, like a few others on this list, was ejected from the aircraft. She was discovered hours after the crash by a local farmer. She had two broken arms, but survived because she landed on a large pad of lilies that broke her fall and held her above water until she was found.
4. George Lamson
The day after Super Bowl XIX, when the San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins, Lamson and his father were in Nevada celebrating and on their way home.Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 reported problems shortly after take-off from Reno, Nevada on January 21, 1985. As the pilots were attempting to return to the airport, the plane plunged to the ground and burst into flames just outside of town. The only survivor out of 71 passengers and crew was 17-year-old George Lamson, who was found still conscious and still strapped to his seat sitting upright in the middle of Highway 395.
3. Juliane Koepcke
Flying to Lima, Peru on December 21, 1971, a LANSA airliner came apart in a severe thunderstorm. Juliane fell over 10,000 feet while strapped in her seat. Somehow surviving the fall with an eye injury and a broken collarbone, she then had to further survive 10 days in a dangerous jungle until she finally stumbled upon a loggers camp. On a sidenote to this one, it was later discovered that as many as 14 other passengers may have survived the crash but were unable to find their way out of the jungle from which Juliane escaped.
2. Mohammed el Fateh Osman
Mohammed el-Fateh Osman is the youngest person to ever survive a plane crash. On July 8, 2003, a Boeing 737 run by Sudan Airways was leaving Port Sudan headed to Khartoum. Once in flight, the pilot noticed that one of the engines was not functioning properly, so it was turned off and he radioed that he was headed back to the airport. The plane crashed during the attempted emergency landing. All 116 people on board were killed except, 2-year old Mohammed el-Fateh Osman. The infant was found near a tree and was sent to the hospital where he was treated for burns.
1. Neuba Tessoh
On a flight from Abidjan, Ivory Coast on January 3, 1987, 11 miles away from the airport after take off, a Varig Airlines Boeing 707 crashed, killing all 39 passengers passengers and 12 crew members except for one- Neuba Tessoh. The plane was headed for Rio de Janeiro but was cut short after attempting to fly back to the airport due to a mechanical issue with the plane.