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The girl who survived a plane crash alone

German-speaking parents who worked at the Lima Museum of Natural History welcomed Koepcke into the world in 1954. She was the sole child of ornithologist Maria Koepcke and biologist Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke. Koepcke’s parents left Lima when she was 14 years old to start Panguana, a research facility in the Amazon rain forest. She acquired survival skills as a “jungle child.” Koepcke was forced to take her exams at the Deutsche Schule Lima Alexander von Humboldt after being disapproved by educational authorities. Koepcke was permitted to stay longer by Maria, and so they planned to leave on Christmas Eve. With the exception of one with Lneas Aéreas Nacionales S.A., all flights were reserved. Her father, Hans-Wilhelm, advised his wife not to fly with the airline because of its unfavorable reputation. Even so, they made the flight. Lightning struck the aircraft. The building started to collapse in midair and fell to the ground. Experts in Koepcke’s case believe that her survival was made possible by the fact that she was strapped into her airplane seat during her descent. But she did break her collarbone. She navigated the water for the majority of her 11 days in the rainforest. Koepcke’s improbable survival has generated a lot of discussion. The seats on either side of Koepcke, which remained attached to hers as part of a row of three, are believed to have served as a parachute and slowed her fall. She is known to have been belted into her seat, providing some protection and padding. The dense vegetation at her landing site and the thunderstorm updraft may have further lowered the impact. Up to 14 additional passengers were later discovered to have survived the initial collision, but they perished while awaiting rescue.

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