FRANCESCA SAMBO – Kenya Airway Plane Crash Survivor
Spent 24 hours in the Atlantic ocean
Wow! I am always so excited about giving this testimony because God indeed truly favoured me if not I won’t be here today.
About 17 years ago, in the year 2000, on the 30th of January precisely, I survived a plane crash. I boarded a flight from Dubai with my best friend then, because she didn’t make it. We were coming all the way from Dubai. We left Nigeria to Dubai to go for some shopping and on our way back from Dubai, we got to Kenya, we got to Nigeria, but we could not land in Nigeria because of the bad weather, so we went on to Ivory Coast to drop the passengers in Ivory Coast; and on the way back from Ivory Coast, five minutes after take off, the plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. You know when you take off from Ivory Coast, you actually cross the Atlantic ocean to your destination.
Now this is the beginning of my testimony. When I boarded that flight, I sat at the beginning of Economy on that flight because it was meant to be free sitting, but due to some arguments with passengers that actually had that seats, we now ended up sitting on row 24E & F, which was by the wing of the plane. We met people sitting down there, and the air Hostess came and organised everything and asked them to leave and we sat down there. Just before we took off, while the plane was taxing, I looked at my best friend because she was sat next to me, she was sleeping, and I kept looking at her as the plane was taking off. I looked at her like seven times and I took my face away. Just as I took my face away, I heard a noise in the plane like boom!!! And I was like ‘ah ah, what’s this?’ As you know very well, when you board a plane, they put off the lights, just the emergency exit lights are on. So I shouted. I was like ah! But there was no so much fear in me because I never thought that plane was going to crash. Before we knew it, I heard another loud noise again and people started shouting, and I went like ‘arh!’ again. Before I could finish saying that ‘ah’, I didn’t remember what happened again. All I remember was that I was feeling severe pains. It was like someone took my head and was banging it straight on the wall. So apparently the plane was dropping from the sky, the engines had failed, and before you knew it I passed out. I became unconscious. I didn’t even know where I was.
All of a sudden I gained my consciousness. I didn’t even know I was under the ocean drowning. Apparently I woke up from my unconsciousness under the water. So when the plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. You can imagine a big air bus 7 7 dropping from the sky, everything was dropping from the plane, of course I didn’t even think the plane was crashing until I came out of that water. All I remembered was that I passed out, I woke up from my unconsciousness, I thought I was dying in my sleep because I was struggling to breathe under the water. I didn’t even know I was under the water. I actually almost stopped breathing. If I had stayed in that water for like three minutes more, that would have been it. But all of a sudden just before I stopped breathing, my head just hit the surface of the water, gasping for air. You know the way it is when you come out of water, I like breathed really strong because I felt I was going to die; and I heard people shouting.
Now, the first thing is, God positioned me because I sat at the beginning of Economy and before you knew it, argument brought me to row 24E & F. God had already set it to bring me out of that accident but I didn’t know that.
Anyway, I heard people shouting. And by the way, we were 179 that boarded that flight, but only 10 of us survived. 169 of the passengers died.
So immediately, I came out of the water, I laid on the water like I was lying on the bed, I didn’t even know how I did that. I just heard people shouting. All I started shouting that moment was, ‘father, Lord, bring me out of here, I don’t want to die like this’. I started looking for something to grab unto. I saw a one thing floating on the water, I grabbed onto it, I saw something else I left it, until finally I saw that board where the oxygen mask drops from, floating on the water, so I held on to it. I now started saying ‘God I don’t want to die like this. You must bring me out of this water. For the sake of my family, just bring me out..
All of a sudden everywhere went quiet. I thought I was the only one staying there, as in floating in that water. I tried to swim but each time I tried to swim the wave throws me back. I didn’t know we were in the Atlantic Ocean. I now started shouting, ‘is anybody there?’ And then I heard two guys answered me. They said “we are here! Find something to hold unto.” So I said to them precisely ‘pray, pray pray! God says where two or three is gathered in His name, He is there. You people should pray.’
So, I started shouting the blood of Jesus! The blood of Jesus! Once in a while I called unto these guys. they said they are still here.
I started looking around, I didn’t even see like rescue coming. I just saw planes flying around because it was very close to the airport, but they were very high. So I just kept shouting ‘the blood of Jesus’, and after a while I tried to swim because we were there for hours. At some point I was actually very cold. I could not even hold unto that board anymore. I had bruises all over, I couldn’t see with one of my eyes, it was shut from the impact. So I actually thought I was blind. I now called on to these guys again, they said ‘they were still here’ and I just kept saying ‘you people should pray! God says where two or three are gathered HE is there.’ And all of a sudden I tried to move forward but the wave threw me back but I still hung on to the board. I now said something to God. I said ‘God I am cold, I need You to keep me warm’, because I couldn’t hold my board… and I had this feeling around me that God wanted to save me but was still afraid as human.
All of a Sudden, I saw helicopters hovering around in the air, like three of them, and then I was screaming of course. I didn’t know whether they saw us but I was just waving and screaming. I saw the helicopters going around in circles and their beam flashing on the Sea. I heard those guys screaming help help! And they went around in their circle, the three helicopters, and then went away. I thought that was the end; and then I screamed really loud as I thought that was the end. I said God I’m not going to allow you let me die like this! You must bring me out of this water. And these were my words precisely. I said ‘God you must bring me out of this water for the sake of my parents, my family, you must bring me out of this water. I’m not going to allow you let me die like this! In the mean time, there were dead bodies around me because each time I turn to my left I see a body, I turn to the right I see another body. Initially I was afraid but after a while I needed to survive.
About 45 minutes after the helicopters left, I saw a boat coming, like a tug boat not too far and not too close. And I screamed help!!! Apparently the man on the boat saw me and started moving towards me. So I tried to swim, but the man screamed and said ‘don’t swim, just wait!’ So immediately, they moved closer to me, they tied a rope to a life buoy, flung it at me and pulled me closer. As they pulled me closer, they pulled me on the boat. Even to pull me that night was tough apparently because we were on the Atlantic ocean. They put me on the boat and sat me on the deck. I was now asking the man ‘am I blind?’ The man laughed and said “no you are not blind but you look like someone just gave you a big blow on your eyes.” So the guy carried me and sat me on the deck and started looking for others. Then I said to him ‘my best friend is there, she is wearing this this clothes’ and the guy looked at me and said “my dear you are a very lucky girl. So far you are the first one person we’ve rescued.” So they put me on the boat and they went on to rescue others. They rescued us. We were 10 of us. They took us out, and we were taken into the hospital. It took almost an hour from shore to get there. And that was how God rescued me.
Like I said, we were 10 of us that survived. Then I started asking God ‘who am I (its not like I’m more righteous than the others) that you brought me out of this, that you showed me so much love? Then God began to say to me that see “I don’t see you the way you see yourself. My love abounds, is beyond measures. I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy not because you are this or you are that. It’s not your righteousness. It’s my righteousness, it’s my mercy and it is my grace.”
I’m so grateful to God. Everyday my life is a testimony. Because of His love I am standing here today. Because of His favour I can give this testimony. I just want to say ‘father again and again I will always return all the glory to you in Jesus Name.’
Praise the Lord!!!