Airplane Crash - Near Puerto Inca, Huanuco, Peru 12/24/1971

Details of airplane crash/ shootdown - Near Puerto Inca, Huanuco, Peru

LocationNear Puerto Inca, Huanuco, Peru
OperatorLineas Aereas Nacionales SA (Peru)
Flight #508
RouteLima - Pucallpa
TypeLockheed 188A Electra
SummaryThe aircraft was struck by lightning after it entered an area of thunderstorms and heavy turbulence. The lightning caused a fire which led to the separation of the right wing and part of the left wing. The aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain in the jungle. One German passenger, a female teenager, survived and was found after trekking through the jungle for 9 days. Juliane Koepcke had a broken collarbone and was unconscious for an unknown amount of time but had survived the crash still strapped in her seat. When she came to, she set out in vain to find her mother. Maria Koepcke, her mother, a leading Peruvian ornithologist, was dead. Rescue crews searched for the aircraft without success. Koepcke would have to save herself. Koepcke found a stream and began nine days of wading through knee-high water and fighting off swarms of insects and leeches. On the ninth day, she found a canoe and shelter. Then she waited. Hours later, local lumbermen returned and found her. They tried to get her to eat but she was quite sick and refused. Insects had buried eggs in her skin and they were beginning to hatch. One of the men poured gasoline on her and, as she told the London Daily Mail, 'I counted 35 worms that came out of my arms alone.' The men offered what assistance they could provide but it was too late in the day to start the journey back to civilization; she slept one more night in the jungle before the men took her on the final seven hour journey via canoe down the river to a lumber station where she was airlifted to a hospital.

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