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10-Year-Old Joins 13 Other Lone Survivors of Major Plane Crashes

  • Dutch Survivor

    In a photo released by Libya TV, the lone survivor of a Afriqiyah Airways plane crash in Tripoli is seen being treated. (AP)

  • Tripoli Crash Debris

    May 12: Rescue teams search the site of the Libyan Afriqiyah Airways plane crash in Tripoli that killed all on board but an 8-year-old child. (AP)

The head of European Parliament called the survival of an 10-year-old in a Tripoli plane crash Wednesday that killed all other passengers on board, "truly a miracle."

The child is believed to be the world's 14th sole survivor of major plane crash.

Some of the survivors relished the spotlight and used their sudden celebrity status to lobby for political changes, while others shunned the media and tried to live a normal a life as possible. Others disappeared off the media radar, and a handful of others were never publicly identified, according to airsafe.com.

1. A 22-year-old flight attendant was the lone survivor on Jan. 27, 1972, when a DC-9 Yugoslav Airlines plane plummeted 33,300 feet into the snow near Hermsdorf, Czechoslovakia, after a bomb on board an hour into the flight. Vesna Vulovic was reportedly in the tail portion of the plane as it fell, and a food tray - acting like a seatbelt - held her against it.

The crash left her temporarily paralyzed and in a coma for 27 days. All 22 passengers and five of the six crew members were killed.

A man said to be a member of a Croatian terrorist group claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Vulovic instantly became a national hero and made the Guinness Book of World Records in 1985 for the highest fall survived without a parachute.

She is a frequent guest on television shows and uses her status to promote political change. In 2008 she campaigned for the Democratic Party of President Boris Tadic, and told the New York Times: "My mission is to prevent Serbia from falling into the same hands that destroyed Serbia in the 1990s."

2. In January of 1985 a Lockheed L-188 Electra 4-engine turboprop plane operated by Galaxy Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff in Reno, Nev., instantly killing all but three of the 71 passengers. Two of them later died, leaving 17-year-old George Lamson Jr. as the lone survivor.

Lamson was reportedly thrown from the aircraft and landed upright, still in his seat.

"I ran away and the plane blew up and it knocked me down," Lamson told Time Magazine shortly after the crash.

According to a National Transportation Safety Board report, the crash was caused by the captain's failure to control and the co-pilot's failure to properly monitor the speed of the aircraft and to monitor the flight path.

3. An engine problem that occurred shortly after takeoff from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, caused a Varig Airlines Boeing 707 to crash 11 miles from the airport on Jan. 3, 1987.

The 12-person crew was killed. At least two of the 39 passengers were pulled from the wreckage alive, but only one survived -- Neuba Tessoh, an Ivory Coast University professor.

The plane reportedly had an unknown problem with the left engine as it departed for Rio de Janeiro, and it crashed into a forest while attempting to return to the airport.

4. Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashed on Aug. 16, 1987, leaving 4-year-old Cecelia Cichan as the lone survivor.

The plane had immediate problems during takeoff and hit a light pole near the end of the runway at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Romulus, Mich. It then hit the roof of a building before slamming into several cars and light poles on a busy highway.

All six crew members and 148 of the passengers were killed, as well as two people on the ground. The NTSB attributed cause to the flight crew's failure to correctly set the flaps for takeoff.

Cecelia's parents and brother were killed in the crash. She was raised by relatives in Alabama, who kept her out of the public spotlight. Cichan reportedly graduated from the University of Alabama in 2006 with a degree in psychology.

5. Annette Herfkens, 31, was the only survivor when the Vietnam Airlines plane she was on crashed into a mountain near Nha Trang on Nov. 14, 1992.

It took eight days for rescue crews to reach the wreckage. By then all six crew members and 24 of the 25 passengers were dead. Some reports say Herfkens told authorities that other survivors died while waiting to be rescued.

6. A charter Avioimpex Yak 42D traveling from Geneva to Skopje crashed into Mount Trojani on Nov. 20, 1993.

Eight crew members died and 115 of the 116 passengers were killed.

7 . Erika Delgado, 9, survived the mid-air explosion of an Intercontinental Airlines DC-9 in March 17, 1995, near Cartegena, Colombia. She was reportedly thrown from the plane as it was making an emergency landing, and was found in a swamp by a farmer.

Five crew members and 46 passengers were killed in the crash.

8. In September of 1997 a Vietnam Airlines Tu-134B crashed a half mile short of the runway in Ho Chi Minh City as it was landing in heavy rain.

A toddler was the only survivor. The crew of six, along with 59 of the passengers were killed.

9. A chartered plane from Tajikistan to Sharja crashed in the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 15, 1997, killing eight of the nine crew members and all 77 passengers.

The Tajikistan Airlines Tupolev 154B went off the radar right before it crashed. An explosion reportedly followed.

A man and a woman survived the impact, but the woman died at a local hospital. Sergei Petrov, 37, the co-pilot, was the only survivor.

10. One person survived a March 2003 Air Algerie plane crash in Tamanrasset, Algeria, that killed 97 passengers and six crew members.

One of the Boeing 737-200 plane's engines reported caught fire during takeoff.

Most reports identify the survivor as an Algerian soldier on his way back to his barracks, but a handful say the survivor was a crew member.

11. Mohammed el-Fateh Osman, 3, was the lone survivor in July 2003 when a Sudan Airways plane crashed into a hillside near the Port of Sudan while trying to make an emergency landing.

The boy lost his right leg and suffered burns in the 737-200C crash, which occurred shortly after takeoff and killed 105 passengers and all 11 crew members.

12. In August 2006, Comair Flight 191, operating as Delta Connection Flight 5191, crashed just past the end of the runway at Blue Grass Airport in Kentucky, killing everyone but First Officer James M. Polehimke.

The commuter jet was cleared to take off from one runway, but departed from a shorter one, causing the plane to overrun it before it could become airborne.

All 47 passengers and 2 crew members were killed.

Polehimke suffered multiple broken bones, severe bleeding and a collapsed lung. His left leg was amputated.

13. Thirteen is a lucky number for Baya Bakari, the 14-year-old girl who survived when a Yemenia Airlines plane crashed into the Indian Ocean in June 2009.