Brazil pilot survives 36 days in Amazon jungle after crash

A pilot who miraculously survived a plane crash and then spent 36 days lost in the harsh Amazon jungle has told how he refused to give up despite the odds against his survival.

Antonio Sena, 36, went missing on January 28 after running into engine trouble on a short flight to a gold mine in the Brazilian state of Para.

Mr Sena, the only person on the small propeller plane, was flying on assignment for garimpeiros, wildcat miners who operate illegal mines in Brazil.

Flying for garimpeiros is risky but not illegal, and it was a valuable job opportunity for Mr Mr Sena while Brazil was being ravaged by the COVID-19 crisis and work was hard to come by, the ABC reported.

With a failed engine, and the fuel tank loaded with dangerous diesel fuel, the experienced pilot knew his best chance for survival was a forced landing in a clearing in the dense jungle below.

“There!” Mr Sena thought, he told The New York Times. “Palm trees mean there is water, perhaps a river.”

The Cessna 210L crashed through some trees and smashed into ground but Mr Sena survived the impact – and managed to escape through the windshield and scurry away with just moments to spare before the plane burst into flames.

The pilot, who had previously studied how to survive the harsh Amazon jungle, had a backpack filled with essentials including water and a bag of 12 bread rolls, lighters and pocketknives, torch, rope, mobile phone with no reception but a good amount of battery, and a change of clothes. He had no major injuries except for a few big cuts.

Mr Sena knew search and rescue teams would be sent to find him and hoped the gap that the plane caused in the jungle canopy would mean they could see him.

But the fast-growing palm trees quickly closed the gap, and the pilot was devastated to hear, several times, rescue aircraft circle overhead before flying away.

“They flew right over, but couldn’t see me,” he said.

Flights go missing over the Amazon with such frequency Brazilian officials usually call of searches after just a few days, with the chance of finding someone incredibly rare.

After a few days of sticking mainly near the scorched remains of the plane – surviving off a bite of bread a day, and sleeping with a self-made spear to his chest – Mr Sena decided to go off in search for help in the largest rainforest on earth.

He used the last moments of battery life on his phone to open an offline geolocation app and determine the direction of the Paru River, more than 96km away, but which was the closest spot he thought would be inhabited.

Mr Sena spent his mornings walking and afternoons setting up shelter from the rain. He knew he was under constant threat from Amazon’s notorious jaguars, anacondas and poisonous snakes.

RELATED: Incredible find outside iconic Aussie town

He found a new source of food called beru, a small pink fruit he watched spider monkeys eat, them, but his weight was plummeting and his weakening body was struggling to continue.

Over three weeks he trekked about 27km. By day 36, he was losing the will to go on, the ABC reported.

As he dragged himself across a small river, he stumbled across a rare sight in the Amazon – humans. They were Brazil nut collectors, who were searching deeper in the jungle than usual for their bounty.

Mr Sena said he approached one of the men with caution.

“I just said, ‘Hello. Good afternoon. My name is Antonio. I’m a pilot and my plane crashed like 30 days ago,’” he told the ABC in a new interview.

“He looked me up and down – I was this burly guy with ripped clothes – and he said: ‘Okay, what do you want me to do?’”

“I just said, ‘Please give me some of those nuts. I’m really, really hungry.’”

After being winched from the jungle by a rescue helicopter, Mr Sena was taken to hospital. He had lost about 25kg but only needed to be treated for dehydration and mild injuries.

His tearful reunion with his family on March 6 was broadcast on Brazilian television, giving hope to a nation devastated by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The only thing that kept me strong and enabled me to come out of that situation alive was the love I have for my family, the desire I had to see my parents and my brother and sister again,” he told media.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *