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Lost in the Jungle

Cloud Front

This is a picture of Juliane Koepcke who survived an airplane crash and lived in the jungle for eleven days. She was born in Lima, Peru, to German parents who worked at the Museum of Natural History in Lima. When she was fourteen, her parents established a research station in the Amazon rainforest, where she learned survival techniques. Because education authorities did not approve of this kind of alternative education, Koepcke returned to the German School in Lima to take her exams. She passed, and graduated on 23 December 1971. Her mother, Maria, wanted to return to the Amazon research station, but Juliane convinced her to stay for her graduation and instead they scheduled their flights on Christmas Eve. LANSA, the airline, had a bad reputation and Koepcke’s father urged against taking the flight, however, they went on with the booking. The plane was struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm and broke up in mid-air. Koepcke, still strapped to her seat, survived the fall, suffering a broken collarbone, a gash on her right arm, and her eye had swollen shut. Koepcke’s first instinct was to look for her mother, who had initially survived the flight, but died from injuries several days later. Koepcke survived on sweets that she had found at the crash site, and then waded downstream to find civilization. After trudging downstream for ten days, she found a boat moored near a small shelter. She then poured gasoline from the boat’s tank into her wounds to clear them of maggots and then spent the night in the shelter. The next morning, she was found by a small group of local fishermen and brought to their village. The day after, she was reunited with her father in a hospital in Pucallpa, Peru.