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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Man survives 1,000m skydive fall
Chances of survival are small if a parachute fails to open
A South African man who survived a 1,000m skydive fall with a few bruises has vowed never to parachute again.

Benno Jacobs, 35, took his maiden parachute jump last Friday, hoping to land safely in a field near the city of Bloemfontein.

Instead, he plummeted to the ground as his parachute failed to open properly for reasons that are still unclear.

Mr Jacobs told the BBC that during the 60-second plunge he thought about his wife and children, and prayed.

"I thought maybe this is the speed you usually travel in a parachute," he said.

It's really a miracle that no one can understand in South Africa - or I think in the world - what happened
Skydiver Benno Jacobs
Once he hit the ground, he stood up and started walking towards the clubhouse under the gaze of stunned family and friends.

"I could see on their faces that something terrible had happened, and they couldn't believe what was happening."


Mr Jacobs said the moment he went into a spiral, people on the ground called an ambulance fearing the worst.

"They stopped the bystanders from going there because they said there would only be a bag of bones lying there," he told the BBC's World Today.

The father of two was later treated in hospital with bruises and a swollen lip.

"It's really a miracle that no one can understand in South Africa - or I think in the world - what happened," he said.

Mr Jacobs blames his failed first jump on a line that was twisted when he left the plane.

As he spiralled towards the ground, he tried pulling all the cords, to no avail.

But the Parachute Association of South Africa has put the incident down to "pilot error".

PASA safety and training officer Mark Bellingan said Mr Jacobs held the right-hand steering toggle down, causing him to spiral and hit the ground at greater, but not fatal, speed.

"If it were true that the parachute did not open, there was no way he would have survived," Mr Bellingan told the South African Press Association.

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