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12-year-old Japanese survivor tells of night on mountain

August 23, 1985

TOKYO (AP) _ Keiko Kawakami, 12, gave a poignant account Friday of the night she spent on a mountain as one of only four survivors of a jumbo jet crash that took 520 lives, including those of her parents and sister.

″When I came to my senses it was dark and it smelled of oil. I heard murmurs from many people and children crying,″ she said.

″I felt parts of my body with my hands and they were all there. I thought, ‘I am alive.’

″My father, who was lying next to me, told me to move my legs. ... He said, ‘I’m trapped here and can’t move. I really can’t help you because I can’t move.’

″After a while, I asked Sakiko (her younger sister) if mother was dead. She replied, ‘Mother is cold. She’s dead. Father is also dead.’ I touched my father and knew that he had died.

″Sakiko then told me she was in pain and I tried to cheer her up by telling how we can live together back home with grandmother even though mother and father were dead. But suddenly, I heard Sakiko make a vomit-like sound and she stopped talking.

″I then knew I was alone. I kept losing consciousness until morning.

″I awoke with sounds of helicopters. I saw the sun and trees through the pieces. I thought ‘I am alive.’ I tried to get out.

″I tried and tried. I remembered what father had told me: ‘Keiko lost patience since she entered junior high.’ So I kept trying.

″I heard people calling: ‘If you are alive, please move your hands or feet 3/8’ Somebody came over, and called out ‘It’s a boy 3/8’ maybe because I had short hair and was wearing shorts.″

Keiko is recuperating from minor injuries and a partial paralysis of her right arm suffered in the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 on Aug. 12. Her account was carried by the Kyodo News Service.