Survivor describes 'freak' Burmese plane crash

Survivor describes 'freak' Burmese plane crash

Survivor describes 'freak' Burmese plane crash

Updated 27 December 2012, 10:50 AEDT

An Australian who survived when a passenger jet crashed and burst into flames in Burma on Christmas Day says it is "incredible" that only two people lost their lives.

Five Australians were among more than 70 passengers on board the Air Bagan Fokker 100 jet when it crashed in a field near Heho Airport in Burma's north-east.

The crash killed one passenger, as well as a motorcyclist on the ground.

Adelaide woman Anna Bartsch, 31, and her boyfriend Stuart Benson, 32, formerly of Hobart, survived the crash with minor injuries.

"I wasn't aware that we were going to crash until we actually did, because I'd stopped looking out the window at that point and was talking to Stuart in the seat next to me," Ms Bartsch said.

"So the first thing I really realised was the impact, the first big thud and there were a number of big thuds and some sort of skidding which obviously felt, you know, it wasn't just a bumpy landing.

Ms Bartsch said she was lucky that she had a seat in the rear of the plane.

"The next couple of minutes of riding those bumps are a bit of a blur," she said.

"I definitely recall consciously thinking 'I reckon this might be it'.

"When we came to a stop, there was enough time to [realise that] we've crashed, but we're alive and relatively unhurt, which was an incredible thing to realise."

She said that when the plane came to halt she looked out of the window and saw flames licking around the plane's fuselage.

"The fire I think started from the tail because the wings had been ripped off by this point. We didn't realise that, but we'd come in through some trees that had ripped off the wings," she said.

"We were about three quarters of the way back and we were the last people in the plane, so the back quarter was completely empty and that was in flames then, as soon as we landed.

"That was when I think I actually became fearful. There is a very limited time here potentially.

"There is fire at the back and we could see smoke coming from the front and figured there [were] probably some big fuel reserves around the wings in the middle, [which was] just sort of where we [were] heading because we couldn't get out the back door and couldn't get out the side door."

Ms Bartsch said she was still struggling to come to terms with the crash but said it was "incredible" that "just about everybody" made it out alive.

"Probably a lot of that is due to the fact that the plane itself landed in this field that was quite deeply ploughed dirt so we actually nestled into it and dug a big trench through it," she said.

"I think that probably absorbed a lot of the impact and hence people's injuries probably weren't as bad as they otherwise could have been, and so almost everybody was able to get themselves out without too much trouble once the doors were open."

She said her initial reaction once the adrenalin from the experience began to wear off was one of shock.

"I imagine it probably will be something that in years to come I see as a very significant and probably will have some impact, but at this stage I think the first thing is adrenalin, the second thing 10 minutes later was shock, and there was that sort of emotional outpouring of shock after we realised we were safe and after we realised there were a lot of people around us that were safe.

"I don't really know how to process this. I actually deliberately stood on the road for a while afterwards, watching the wreckage burning and trying to absorb it," she told ABC News Breakfast.

"I was constantly saying to myself: you are looking at this actually happening. You were just on there. This is not a movie. It's hard to grasp."

She said the experience had not put her off flying.

"I'm concerned this will put people off [travelling to Burma], and I'd like to encourage people to think of it as a freak accident," she said.

"We don't know the exact cause yet. There is some suggestion there was a problem with one of the engines before we landed. We don't know that."