UnNews:Three climbers and dog rescued from stranded JetBlue plane

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20 February 2007

Unnews jetblue rescue
Stranded climbers are rescued from a snowed-in JetBlue aircraft after nearly 120 hours on board at JFK airport.

New York City, NY -- Three experienced climbers, traveling with their dog to Oregon in hopes of climbing Mount Hood, were rescued Monday from their stranded JetBlue aircraft in New York. All others on the flight perished, officials grimly revealed. The plane that was to take them to Portland was stuck on the tarmac at New York's JFK airport ever since last Wednesday's massive snowfall in the region.

Rescuers say the three men's climbing and survival skills let them live through the ordeal, and having the dog as a companion helped with both morale and keeping warm. Conditions aboard the stranded aircraft deteriorated quickly after all the snacks ran out, and exhausted crewmembers disembarked the plane about 12 hours after it initially pulled away from the gate. As fear gripped other passengers and the scene turned to pandemonium with "every man for himself," the three climbers were able to use their pickaxes and ropes to defend themselves.

"It was sheer chaos," explained climber Matt Bryant, "I had to use my Swiss army knife to keep back a woman who was trying to get at my last bottle of water." Within 3 days, all the other passengers were dead of dehydration, hypothermia, or injuries sustained while battling for the last scraps of food. By Sunday, the lucky trio decided to make a daring descent into the plane's cargo hold to see if there was any food in the luggage. Their dog helped them sniff out the food, which kept them alive for another day. But as temperatures dipped into the low 20s, it was hypothermia that soon became the biggest worry. Fortunately, the brave dog once again proved to be a savior, lying across the three climbers at night to keep them warm.

Meanwhile, JetBlue and airport authorities were racing to reach the plane and rescue those on board. Seriously understaffed airline officials took until Friday to even realize the plane still hadn't departed. By Sunday, the rescue effort was in full swing, with plows clearing a path towards the aircraft, and a replacement pilot standing by. "To be honest," admitted police captain Nick Watt, "we thought by that time everyone would be dead. Finding these three alive was a real miracle." JetBlue officials promised to refund the ticket price for the survivors, and offered a bag of puppy chow for the heroic dog. The flight to Portland finally departed late Monday, about 120 hours late.

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