Guinness World Records - Officially Amazing

Worst lightning strike disaster - death toll

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For the record

  • Who: LANSA Flight 508

  • What: Worst lightning strike disaster - death toll

  • Where: Peru

The highest death toll form a disaster caused by a fatal lightning strike is 91 people, all of whom died when Peruvian airline, LANSA, Flight 508 was struck and crashed into the Amazon rainforest on 24 December 1971. Whilst several of the passengers survived the 3-km (2-mile) drop to earth, only one person, Juliane Koepcke (Germany), was able to leave the crash site to seek help.

Having been taught by her father that settlements may be found by tracking along a water source, Koepcke followed a stream until she stumbled upon a canoe and shelter belonging to local lumbermen. When they returned and discovered Koepcke, they treated her injuries as well as they could before taking her downriver to Tournavista, Peru. From there she was flown to a hospital in Pucallpa, where she was reunited with her father.

Her story was later told in the film Wings of Hope (Germany, 2000), directed by Werner Herzog (Germany), who had almost caught the ill-fated flight himself.

 

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