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[WATCH] Maltese tourist unhurt, instructor dies in Brazil hang glider accident

Update 4 | 'I'm 100% ok and will continue my amazing trip' says Maltese national Tania Sultana who miraculously escaped injury in Brazil after a bizarre hang glider accident killed her instructor.

Karl Stagno-Navarra
17 August 2012, 12:00am
The jump site in San Coronado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where Tania Sultana took-off with her instructor
The jump site in San Coronado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where Tania Sultana took-off with her instructor


Brazilian media have described Maltese tourist Tania Sultana as a "living miracle" after managing to avoid serious injury or death during a hang gliding jump gone wrong, which killed her 42 year-old professional instructor.

The tragedy occurred in Sao Conrado, in the South Zone of Rio, where hundreds of tandem flights - mostly with experienced pilots ferrying foreign tourists - occur each day.

The pilot, identified as Wanderlei Nascimento Coelho, 42, commonly known as 'Delei', reportedly crashed into a field on Canoas Road, a landmark area in Rio de Janeiro.

Delei died on the spot, but his passenger, Maltese national Tania Sultana from Birkirkara, who is currently on holiday in Brazil together with a group of friends, miraculously survived the incident after managing to remain secured to the hang glider and ended-up stuck in a tree.

The pair took off from Pedra Bonita, a 507-meter high peak, and would have landed on the beach in Sao Conrado about eight minutes later.

Initially, rescuers took Sultana to the Sao Conrado Flight Club, according to the club director, Vinicius Cordeiro, then to testify at the Tourist Service Bureau (DEAT), in Leblon.

Tania Sultana was reported to be in a state of shock, and resting at her hotel.

According to Brazilian media, the pilot had more than 15-years of experience. He noticed a problem on the wing and tried to activate the emergency parachute. Trees caught the parachute, which had not opened but the pilot hit the ground.

This is the second fatality at the site this year. In March, Priscila Boliveira, 24, sister of known Brazilian actor Fabricio Boliveira, died in a hang glider accident, falling 20 meters after jumping from Pedra Bonita, also in Sao Conrado.  Authorities charged the pilot in that case with negligent manslaughter.

Moviegoers might recognise the takeoff ramp at the Sao Conrado Flight Club, which featured in the 2011 big-budget animated film "Rio," which featured an all-star Hollywood cast voicing the characters.

In a message to MaltaToday from Brazil, Sultana stressed that she was "100% ok," adding that she was "indeed lucky but I don't even have a scratch."

"I am ok and all I want is to be left in peace so that I can continue to enjoy the rest of this amazing trip!" Sultana said.



Saviour Cassar
enjoy yourself Tania,you're a brave Maltese girl.
Kevin Fenech
Go for it Tania, Enjoy yourself. You are still so young but life is so short. As someone had said, what's important is not how many days you can add to your life but how much life you can add to your days. The last photo showed you in a hot air balloon. I did it. Thrilling ain't it. Sorry never had the chance to do the hang glider stuff. Maybe next time.
roderick degiorgio
Sweet, life is like a coin you can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once. Take care,thank God this time you were fortunate.
This is Tania Sultana (the one mentioned in the article) writing from Rio de Janeiro. I just want to make it clear that I am 100% ok. I was indeed lucky but I don´t even have a scratch so please let`s not sensationalise this. Also note that the above happened last Tuesday. Some parts of the article above such as that I`m in a state of shock are well outdated. I´m ok and all I want is to be left in peace so that I can continue to enjoy the rest of this amazing trip! Thanks for your concern. Tania