Annette Herfkens was 31 when she boarded a Vietnam Airlines flight in November of 1992. It was supposed to be a romantic trip; a surprise getaway with her fiancé who was working as a banker in Ho Chi Minh City. But instead of reaching the resort town of Nha Trang as planned, the plane hit severe turbulence, clipped a mountain, and disintegrated into the jungle.
According to Annette the crash occurred in just the same nightmarish way you’d imagine. “There was the sound of accelerating motors,” she recalls. “Then there was a gigantic drop and everyone started screaming. We looked at each other, he stretched out and grabbed for my hand, I grabbed his, and then everything went black.”
Thirty people lost their lives in the crash, including her fiancé, and when Annette came to she found herself alone in the ruined fuselage, surrounded by luggage and bodies. And there she stayed, for a total of eight days, waiting to be rescued.
Annette Herfkens’ tale of survival is the first story we’re covering on a new VICE podcast called Extremes. She talks to us about considering cannibalism as she waited to be rescued, and how slowly expiring from dehydration was somehow a transformative experience. But most surprisingly she explains how a later investigation attributed her survivalism to the fact she’d refused to wear a seatbelt.
Over six episodes we’re interviewing people who’ve lived through the wildest, high-stakes scenarios we could find. Some stories are quite tragic, while others are funny—but all offer a window into human behaviour when all rules get thrown out the window. Please follow the link below or subscribe to Extremes on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.