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Sole survivor in Kazakhstan's plane crash undergoes five surgeries

Asem Shakyakhmetova. Photo courtesy of altaynews.kz. Asem Shakyakhmetova. Photo courtesy of altaynews.kz.

The only survivor in the crash of the AN-2 plane that occurred on January 20 in Zhambyl Oblast Asem Shayakhmetova has had five successful surgeries, Tengrinews reports citing the press service of the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development of Kazakhstan.

The young woman needed a lot of blood transfused and although she has rare Fourth (AB) blood group many people including her colleagues from Kazakhmys, friends and other Kazakhstanis donated blood for her.

The five surgeries were conducted in three days, from January 27 to January 29.

On January 27, doctors of Astana Hospital #1 fixed the third, the fourth and the fifth lumbar vertebrae of the young woman using the Stryker fixation system. On January 28, Asem had four operations to fixation fractures of the left femur, left shinbone and right tibia using the osteosynthesis method, as well as plastic surgery of soft tissues.

According to the press service of the Ministry, currently, Asem is in intensive care. Doctors are monitoring her condition very closely and so far they assess her condition as moderately serious, but stable. According to the doctors, her complete recovery may take a year.

Asem Shayakhmetova, Chief Geologist of BakhashTsvetMet Operating Department, was born in Bolshenarymsky district, in Katon-Karagay of East Kazakhstan Oblast in 1986. She moved to Semey in 2012. The woman worked as chief geologist in Shemonaikha and then moved to Balkhash. She has worked in Kazakhmys for five years.

The plane was carrying another six people: three more from Kazakhmys mining company and three plane crew members. 

The plane of Olymp Air LLP was hired by Kazakhmys company to make a flyover of its mines in Zhambyl Oblast. The plane took off from Balkhash town and was heading towards Shaturkul mine. The tragedy occurred near Shaturkol mine, located not far from Satgul Lake in Shu region 300 km away from Taraz city and about 60 km away from Shu town when the airplane was approaching to land.

Three employees of Kazakhmys company who died are: Director of the Technical Development Department of Kazakhmys G.T. Tleubayev, Chief Mechanic of BakhashTsvetMet Operating Department E.B. Ibrayev, and Head of the Department for Technical and Investment Planning of BakhashTsvetMet Operating Department U.Kh. Yesmaganbetova. The three deceased crew members are: Command pilot V.G. Klyushov, Second pilot V.P. Savelyev, and Flight engineer V.I. Litvinov.

The young woman does not remember how the plane started falling. When she woke up, she began calling a man lying next to her, but he did not respond. Then, despite her severe injuries, she gathered all her courage and will to live and managed to crawl towards one of the men killed in the plane crash, get a phone from his pocket and call the rescuers. It was 3.50 pm when she called, only 10 minutes had passed after the plane crashed. 

Asem was found much later, at around 5.40 pm, she led the remained on the phone and led the rescue team almost all the way to the crash site, but when they arrived she was already unconscious. They got her to a hospital in nearby Shu town at 7 pm.

She was first operated in Zhambyl Oblast where her fractured bones were realigned and she got anti-shock treatment. After her condition was stabilized, she was transported to Astana by air ambulance on January 22. 

An investigation of the causes of the crash, which is conducted by a special commission headed by First Vice-Minister for Investment and Development Zhenis Kasymbek, is still underway. Three versions of the crash are being considered: weather conditions, human error and aircraft’s mechanical failure.

Tthe investigation may take 2-3 months. The plane debris have been transported to Almaty, where a group of experts including the plant's representatives, independent experts and law enforcement authorities are investigate various factors that could have lead to the traffic accident. 

By Assel Satubaldina

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