Uruguayan Flight Crashes in the Andes

On October 13, 1972, a Uruguayan Air Force Fairchild FH-227 aircraft carrying 45 passengers and crew crashed in the remote snowy peaks of the Andes. The story that ensued is one of the greatest examples of strength of the human spirit.

The flight is often referred to as the Andes Flight Disaster, and the incredible events that followed the crash as the Miracle in the Andes (El Milagro de los Andes).

More than a quarter of the passengers and crew died in the crash impact, and several more succumbed to exposure, injuries and an avalanche that ravaged the makeshift shelter that the survivors had made in the carcass of the crashed aircraft.

Faced with starvation and radio news reports that the search for the fallen aircraft had been called off, the survivors resorted to cannibalism, feeding off the dead passengers who had been preserved in the snow.

With only grim prospects of being rescued, two of the crash survivors, Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, set off on a trek across the Andes to find help. After 10 days away from the wreckage, Parrado and Canessa found Chilean Sergio Catalán, who gave them food and alerted authorities about the other survivors on the mountain.

The last 16 survivors were rescued on December 23, 1972, a full 10 weeks after the crash.

A great website devoted to the Miracle in the Andes can be found here:

http://www.viven.com.uy/571/eng/default.asp

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