Survivors of a plane crash in the Andes half a century ago said they had no regrets about cannibalism
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In 1972, a plane with 40 rugby players and their fans crashed in the Andes, the survivors were forced to eat the bodies of dead comrades.
All 16 survivors of the 1972 plane crash gathered in Uruguay to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy and commemorate their fallen comrades. In order to survive, the passengers of flight FAU 571, which operated the Montevideo-Mendoza-Santiago flight, were forced to eat the bodies of the dead. The story of the survivors after was called “Miracle in the Andes”. The Daily Mail writes about this.
Plane crash survivors spent 72 grueling days in the icy Andes. Now their story has been told in a book and film, and a documentary is being developed by Netflix.
Speaking to the gathering, one of the survivors, Carlos Páez, said it was their duty to travel the world and tell the story of the 72 days that they spent in the mountains, forced to eat the corpses of their friends.
“I flew six million miles on American Airlines flights. I am doomed to tell this story forever, just like The Beatles are always forced to sing Yesterday,” said Carlos, confessing that he has no fear of flying.
Roberto Canessa, the medical student who suggested that the survivors eat human flesh in order to survive, recalled that it was an incredibly difficult decision, but the survivors of the plane crash had no choice. They ran out of food after a few days, the mountains were covered with snow, and when they heard on the radio that their search had stopped, they realized that they had no other choice.
They were Catholics, and among the dead were their friends and relatives, but they made an agreement from which it followed that if they died, then the rest were obliged to eat their bodies. Canessa, by the way, became an outstanding pediatric cardiologist who saved many lives.
Gustavo Zerbino, another survivor, became a famous rugby player, under his leadership the team won 12 Uruguayan championships in 14 years. He is credited with his country's first victory in rugby against Chile.
70-year-old Ramon Sabella said that “in a sense, their friends were among the first organ donors in the world”
“They helped us survive and supported our existence. Of course, the idea of eating human flesh was terrible and disgusting. We couldn’t even put it in our mouths, but then we got used to it,” Sabella said, noting for the especially curious that human meat has no taste.
The accident occurred due to pilot error, he veered off course in dense fog and crashed into a rock.
Twelve passengers died in the crash, and 17 more died from injuries and asphyxiation as a result of an avalanche that came down a few days later.
After 10 days, the survivors learned from the on-board radio station that their search had been abandoned. They still hoped for salvation, but in the end, Roberto Canessa and Fernando Parrada went for help. Antonio Visintin was with them, but he had to return because they ran out of food.
Ten days later, Roberto and Fernando stumbled upon a turbulent mountain river that blocked their path, but they were noticed by the shepherd Sergio Catalana. He did not hear a word over the roar of the water, but returned the next day with paper and a pencil, which he threw to the survivors for them to describe to him what happened.
The survivors of FAU 571 were rescued in two steps. They were incredibly malnourished, suffering from scurvy, dehydration and altitude sickness.
Now they all support organ donation, travel with motivational speeches, and Nando Parrado's book was made into the film “Alive”, (or “Survive” ) starring Ethan Hawke.