Thursday, July 2, 2009

All the way down

That a 12-year-old girl should survive the Yemen airliner
crash into the ocean off the Comoro Islands is something
that catches at my heart; and I guess, too, that there’s an
element of hope in it, because it tells us that big airliner
crashes are survivable. (Not that you should consider
yourself singled out by destiny if you do come out alive:
Peter Weir’s film Fearless memorably explores the
consequences of that belief.) In this case, it seems to have
helped that the plane was not at full height and that it fell
into the sea rather than onto land; nor did it explode in
mid-air, which somewhat drastically lessens the chance of
of survival. The bomb that blew up a Pan Am airliner over
the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 tore the plane
apart, exposing the main passenger cabin to the night air,
and, as Hugh Miles wrote in the London Review of Books
two years ago,

the change in air pressure made the passengers’
lungs expand to four times their normal volume
and everyone lost consciousness. As the
fuselage plummeted and the air pressure began
to return to normal, some passengers came
round, including the captain. A few survived all
the way down, until they hit the ground.
Rescuers found them clutching crucifixes, or
holding hands, still strapped into their seats.

Those whose bodies weren't redistributed across the
landscape, that is. All 259 people aboard died. Yet a girl
of nine survived a mid-air explosion over Colombia in
1995. Be of good fear.


Anonymous said...

Two posts in one day ... steady dear boy, just keep taking the pills. Ooops, that's what MJ kept doing, rescind that last order.

Mary McCallum said...

a thoughtful post about something that has been going around in my mind since I heard the news of the girl who lived - thank you denis