A bride on her honeymoon banned by the KGB from talking about being the sole survivor of a crash with a Soviet bomber that killed everyone else has revealed how she opened her eyes to see her dead husband lying next to her in the wreckage.
Speaking now, 39 years after the accident, Larisa Savitskaya from the city of Blagoveshchensk in the south-eastern Russian region of Amur Oblast, said she had lain injured in the wreckage for what seemed like an eternity before she was rescued on the third day.
Savitskaya, who was 20-years-old at the time, was the only survivor out of 38 people travelling on the AN-24RV passenger aircraft and the TU-16K bomber that collided as a result of dispatcher miscommunication on the 24th August 1981. Military prosecutors put the blame for the accident that happened in the Zavitinsky District in Amur Oblast, in Soviet Russia, on the pilots of both aircraft.
First reports about the accident were censored, saying Savitskaya, now 59, had crashed in a homemade glider. She was warned by the KGB to say nothing different and not to talk to the public.
The plane had plummeted to the ground from a height of 5,200 metres (17,060 ft) and everybody but her lost their lives, and she never had the chance to properly tell her story at the time because of the KGB pressure.
So now national news channel Ridus got in touch with Savitskaya on the 39th anniversary of the crash to find out about her life.
Savitskaya, who had been returning with her husband from their honeymoon in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, said: “At first I was reminding myself of each minute of that day, what I was doing step by step. Now I’m trying to not remember it at all.”
The sole survivor described how she had laid in the wreckage for two days with severe injuries to her spine, head ribs and legs, missing almost all of her teeth and next to her husband, Vladimir, who lay dead next to her.
She said: “I tried to not look at him or the rest of the deceased. Almost all of them were lying face down. I was later told that the grave for me and my husband was already ordered.”
Savitskaya said she is not afraid to fly on aeroplanes, as the very next year she already got back on an plane with her father, who was worried more about the trip than she was.
The woman said she is currently living a happy life together with her current husband, Tomifey, with whom she has a son and a granddaughter.
But Savitskaya also spoke about the grief of losing her first husband, saying: “Four years after that day, my mother passed away. That day she went to work and just did not return.
“The same is with my first husband – I was always trying to imagine that he went somewhere and will come back, someday. It’s easier to live in anticipation than to feel the pain of loss. Such deception allows you to take a new breath, find the strength to get out of the stupor and helps you prepare to mourn.
“We need to look for any opportunities and move on. I wash the dishes and am just happy that I have arms and legs, but I might not have. And if I hadn’t I would have washed while sitting or bought a dishwasher. Life is better than non-life.”
Savitskaya has been in the Russian edition of the Guinness Book of Records twice for two world records.
She is the person who survived a plane crash from the most height and the person who received the lowest amount of compensation for damages after a plane crash.
According to Ridus, the survivor received 75 Soviet RUB, a non-continued currency which amounts to approximately 20 GBP.
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Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub Editor: Joana Mihajlovska, Agency: Newsflash
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