First News - Tri Viet

In the right situation, only one book can change your life


Dutch author of plane crash memoirs shares thoughts with locals

Author Annette Hefkens embraces Nguyen Thi Lan, wife of chief pilot Nguyen Quang Vinh of the Mi-8
who died when he joined other six crew members to rescue the Vietnam Airlines’ Flight 474
crashed in O Kha Mountain in Khanh Hoa Province in 1992. The photo was taken at a press
conference in HCMC yesterday morning. - Photo: Kieu Giang

Holland’s author Annette Herfkens on August 12 had a press briefing with local media on the launch of her memoirs in Vietnamese “192 Hours Gianh giat su song tu chuyen bay dinh menh” in HCMC’s District 1.

The author was accompanied by her 17-year-old daughter, Joosje Lupa, who is the co-writer and editor for the original book “Turbulence: A survival story” debuted in the U.S. earlier this year.

The Vietnamese version of the book published by HCMC-based First News has hit local bookstore shelves since early this month. It has gained much attention from local readers as they admire her incredible will and strength to survive eight days after the crash of Vietnam Airlines’ Flight 474 in O Kha Mountain in the central coast province of Khanh Hoa in 1992. The Soviet-made Yakovlev Yak-40 jet built in 1976 was carrying 25 passengers and six crew members when it crashed due to a tropical storm and was completely destroyed.

It tells the experience of a woman who was left in the jungle alone with multiple injuries and drank only rainwater drained from broken pieces of the plane to survive. The book also unveils her journey back to family and work and how she has healed the wounds of soul and losses.

“The plane crashed very fast. We held our hands, my fiancé and I. And then I lost my consciousness. I didn’t know anything until the next day I saw myself being stuck in a chair and people were dead next to me,” said Herfkens.

At the event, Herfkens also had a touching reunion with wives of four pilots among seven of a Mi-8 helicopter who died while they were trying to approach the Flight 474 crash site.

Nguyen Thi Lan, wife of chief pilot Nguyen Quang Vinh of the Mi-8, said: “My daughter is 21 years old now and is a third year student. I feel relieved as I have been able to raise my child to be a good girl to pay tribute to the love and sacrifice of my husband. It’s also a solace for me as I can see Annette living a happy life.”

“I didn’t know the death of seven people in a rescue team of Mi-8 helicopter until my first trip back to Vietnam in 2006. I don’t know what to say to you now but I can feel the pain of a woman who lost her husband,” Herfkens answered Lan’s question.

These ladies on August 13 will join Herfkens and her daughter in a two-day trip back to O Kha Mountain, the site of the plane crash in Khanh Hoa Province.

Herfkens also had an exchange with local veteran journalist Huynh Dung Nhan, the first one writing an article about the plane crash in 1992 and also the man who would have died if he had joined the rescue team on board the Mi-8 helicopter as planned.

According to Herfkens, after Vietnam she expects to publish it in her home country of the Netherlands, then Spain and China. A movie based on the book will be made soon.

Herfkens will have two meetings with local readers at Fahasa Nguyen Hue Bookstore in District 1 on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and at Tri Viet Bookstore at 11H Nguyen Thi Minh Khai in District at 9 a.m. on Saturday.


Kieu Giang