Sole Survivor of '71 Jungle Crash Recounts Ordeal

Teen girl fell 2 miles from sky, trekked 10 days out of Amazon

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 3, 2009 1:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – The miraculous survival of a sole passenger in the Indian Ocean plane crash this week brought back some painful memories for German librarian Juliane Koepke, CNN reports. Koepke, then 17, was the sole survivor of a 1971 crash in the Amazon rainforest. She plummeted more than two miles strapped to a seat, and awoke the next day injured and alone deep in the Peruvian jungle.

The crash killed the other 95 people on board, including Koepke's mother, a famous zoologist. The pair had been en route to her father's Amazon research station. Koepke, using survival skills learned from her parents, followed creeks and rivers away from the crash site, sometimes wading through waters infested with crocodiles and piranhas. After 10 days the starving girl found a hut on the river and was rescued by lumberjacks.

Juliane Koepcke spent 10 days finding her way out of the Amazon rainforest after she survived a 1971 plane crash that killed her mother.
Juliane Koepcke spent 10 days finding her way out of the Amazon rainforest after she survived a 1971 plane crash that killed her mother.   (Shutterstock)
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Juliane Koepcke describes her Amazon ordeal in a 2000 documentary made by Werner Herzog.   (YouTube)

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It just horrifies me. I only hope it all went quickly for those on board.
- Juliane Koepke, on her reaction to airplane disasters

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