There were blinding flashes, followed by peels of
thunder. Visibility was almost zero. Our anxiety rose
into fear. Suddenly without any warning, our helicopter
went into a spin and nosedived into the darkness below.
We were so overtaken by fright that we could not even
utter a word or say a prayer. in any case, it was too
late. There was a deafening crash. The impact was so
tremendous that we thought we had been torn into a
thousand pieces. I only realized that I was still alive
when I felt cold water. The chopper had plunged into the
sea. As it began to sink, water was gushing in. I began
to grope my way around to find an exit. Although I had
my inflatable life-jacket on, I resisted using it lest I
became stuck inside the chopper.
It was a great relief
when I finally found an opening. I swam through it and
surfaced. Then I inflated my life-jacket. Suddenly I
heard some familiar voices. It turned out to be the
pilot and his assistant. Was I glad to know that they
survived the crash. But where were three more of our
fellow crew members ? If they had not swum away from the
sinking helicopter, they would have been drowned. The
three of us grouped together as it would increase our
chances of survival. We then took
stock of the situation. The helicopter had
probably gone down. We were not able to locate our
whereabouts in the dark. We decided to stay put until
dawn. even then, we had to endure the rough waves, cold
rains and strong currents. We gave each other
encouragement and clung together throughout the night.
We were sure that help would come by daybreak from the
search party, or at least from passing fishing boats. We
knew that we could not be too far away from the coast.
Despite the life jacket, it was difficult to keep
afloat. You would never understand how strong the waves
and currents were unless you were there. It was also
impossible to keep still. You had to play with the waves
and ride along with them. Before long, we were
completely drained of our energy. I wondered whether I
could survive alone in this ordeal. We talked to keep
each other awake. We recollected the good times we had.
I was half listening and half thinking of my loved ones
at home. I thought of Jasmin. Tomorrow would be her
first day at school. Only the previous day, I had bought
her a new bag, a new pair of shoes and school uniforms.
She was looking forward to my taking her to school. I
just wondered how she would feel if I did not reach home
in time. I just prayed that help would reach us soon.
We had been on a mercy flight
to airlift a seriously injured seaman from a ship some
10 kilometers from the shore. The engineer had been
badly scalded by hot oil while repairing the engine of
the cargo ship. strong winds made it difficult for the
helicopter to fly low and it had to circle the ship
several times. By then a torrential downpour had begun
and visibility became low. It would be too dangerous to
carry on the mission and the pilot decided to turn back.
Before we could reach our base, the accident occurred.
According to the pilot, the chopper had a good service
record and it was equipped with the latest gadget
including night-flying electronics. Nevertheless, the
lightning might have damaged the equipment and caused
the chopper to crash.
We had been in the water for 12 hours when dawn
approached. By then the rain had stopped. Despite our
exhaustion, our spirit soared. when we heard the sound
of a motorboat some distance away, we shouted until
hoarse. Suddenly I remembered the whistle attached to
our life-jacket. I started blowing it, followed by the
others. Our effort was not in vain. A fishing boat soon
came in our direction. The puzzled fishermen picked us
up and took us to a jetty. A waiting ambulance
transported us to the hospital. We were shocked to be
told of our injuries. We had chemical burns on our
bodies, arms and legs as a result of being immersed for
too long in caustic aviation turbine fuel which had
leaked from the ill-fated helicopter. Nevertheless our
doctor assured us that our conditions were stable. We
were indeed lucky to be rescued. I felt like I had been
given a fresh lease of life.
Meanwhile the search for the remaining crew members
continued with the services of several helicopters,
speedboats and navy and marine police. By noon time,
there was still no sign of them. Rain had started and
the poor weather conditions rendered the search of the
missing crewmen and the recovery of the wreckage
difficult. I prayed for them earnestly.
(a) How did the crew members react when they heard the sound of a
(b) How did the writer feel
i. when told of his injuries at the hospital, and
ii. when told that his condition was stable ?