Andes Flight Disaster

In fact, our survival had become a matter of national pride. Our ordeal was being celebrated as a glorious adventure… I didn't know how to explain to them that there was no glory in those mountains. It was all ugliness and fear and desperation, and the obscenity of watching so many innocent people die. I was also shaken by the sensationalism with which many in the press covered the matter of what we had eaten to survive.”

— Nando Parrado

The Uruguayan FH-227 was being used to fly from Montevideo to Santiago via Buenos Aires and Mendoza. Captain Julio Cesar Ferradas had a total of 5117 flying hours and had made 29 flights across the Andes mountains before. Following takeoff from Mendoza, the aircraft climbed to 5500m and followed the Airway G17 across the Andes. While flying at an altitude of FL150 in turbulence the right wingtip hit a mountain and broke off. The right wing folded over the fuselage and cut off part of the tail. The left wing also separated and the fuselage hit a mountain slope at 350km/h and skidded through the snow.

Thirteen passengers die in the crash. In the following days survivors wait for a rescue party. However, on November 23 the search is being halted. In December a few survivors try to get help and on December 20 they finally met some Chileans. A rescue party is organised and the other survivors are airlifted from the wreckage on December 22, 23.

On Friday 13th October of 1972, an Uruguayan plane, which was carrying 45 passengers to Chile, most of whom were students and rugby players, crashed in the Andes Mountains.

Twelve of the people died in the crash. The survivors not only had to withstand the hunger and the fearful Mountains, but also 30 degree-below-zero temperatures during the night.

They tried to survive with the scarce food reserves they had until being rescued, but they lost their hope when heard that the search had ceased on the radio.

Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, also known as the Andes flight disaster, and in South America as Miracle in the Andes (El Milagro de los Andes) was a chartered flight carrying 45 rugby team members and associates that crashed in the Andes on October 13, 1972. The last of the 16 survivors were rescued on December 23, 1972. More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several more quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the twenty-nine who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage.

The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh climate, at over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) altitude. Faced with starvation and radio news reports that the search for them had been abandoned, the survivors fed on the dead passengers who had been preserved in the snow. Rescuers did not learn of the survivors until 72 days after the crash when passengers Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, after a 12-day trek across the Andes, found a Chilean huaso, who gave them food and then alerted authorities about the existence of the other survivors.