A 36-year-old man, the sole survivor of a plane crash, managed to stay alive for ten days on the icy plains of Siberia despite sustaining serious injuries. Miner Pavel Krivoshapkin, 36, suffered a concussion and broken ribs and lived off packets of instant noodles he found in a small abandoned hut occasionally used by reindeer herders.
Krivoshapkin was the only survivor of the accident involving a single-engine Antonov An-2 plane, whose pilot and co-pilot were burned alive after the aircraft crashed into a hillside. He was the third passenger on the aircraft and the only one to survive the impact.
The man, who works as a miner extracting silver in Vertikalniy, was found alive on Friday in Russia’s vast Yakutia region, an area infested with brown bears and wolves.
After recovering in the hospital, Krivoshapkin told of his difficult adventure, which began when the plane he was on got lost in the fog. In a matter of minutes came the moment of impact, as the Antonov hit a mountainous slope.
“When I came to my senses, everything around me was full of smoke,” he told the international news channel Russia 24. “To get out of the plane, I broke the lock on the door.”
When he finally managed to get out, Krivoshapkin says that there were several pieces of the plane scattered over the slope, still on fire. “I sat by the side of the plane for about three hours, then slowly walked to a river and made a small fire there,” he said.
The miner believes he survived the tragedy because he was sitting in the back of the aircraft. He says he was on a mission to bring a ton of food and tools to a silver mine.
As he tried to warm up, already worrying about the cold imposed by the harsh arctic night, he spotted a cabin nearby. He followed a path opened probably by a reindeer breeder and managed to enter the room.
In the hut, Krivoshapkin found several packages of Doshirak noodles (a South Korean brand of instant noodles). It was this food that kept him alive for the next ten days until a rescue party arrived.
“They [os pacotes de macarrão] saved me from severe hunger – even though I didn’t want to eat so much, because my body was hurting and hurting so much. I was starving, but I had almost no appetite.”
During the time he was waiting for help, he heard several helicopters and even created an improvised flag that could be seen from above. However, his efforts seemed to have been in vain.
“I forced myself to get up once a day, and every day I went out waving a flag, hoping someone would see me,” said the miner.
He didn’t know it, but a massive search was underway, looking for any survivors of the plane crash, covering an area of 11.2 square kilometers. However, only on the tenth day was Krivoshapkin located.
Rescue teams in a Polar Airlines Mi-8 helicopter found the wreckage of the plane and the charred bodies of the two pilots in the Kobyaysky district of Yakutia early Friday morning. An hour later, they found Krivoshapkin and took him to a hospital in the city of Yakutsk, where he is recovering from his injuries.