Half a century later Plane crashes in the AndesSurvivors who resorted to cannibalism to survive gathered this week in Uruguay to remember their horrific ordeal.
a story 16 survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which was chartered to relocate an amateur rugby team from Montevideo to Santiago, Chile, in 1972, is immortalized in the bestselling book, “Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors” by Pierce Paul Reid. It was later made into a Hollywood movie in 1993.
Among the passengers on the Fairchild FH-2270 who survived 72 days in the Andes, Ramon Sabella, 70, was quoted by the London Sunday Times as saying: “Of course, the idea of eating human flesh was horrific and disgusting.”
The group, all still alive, gathered on the October 13th anniversary of the crash for a mass to remember the 29 friends and crew who died in the crash at more than 13,000 feet, according to the outlet. .
The newspaper reported that this year the Uruguayan Post Office celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their ordeal with a postage stamp.
“It was hard to put in your mouth,” remembers Sabella, a successful businessman. “But we got used to it. In a sense, our friends were some of the first organ donors in the world — they helped nourish us and kept us alive.”
The group made their decision after eating the food they ate on the plane, which included eight chocolate bars, a can of mussels, three small packets of jam, some almonds and dates and several bottles of wine.
Today, the 16 survivors are a close-knit group who also gather every year on December 22, the day the rescue begins, for a barbecue – beef steaks and pork sausages.
The plane crashed into a mountain slope in inclement weather when the pilot veered off course. Its wings split on impact, instantly killing 12 passengers and crew. Reports said 17 others would die of their injuries and an avalanche. Ten days later, the group of survivors heard on the radio that the search for them had been cancelled.
“Thinking about the suffering caused by our families being at home made us even more determined to survive,” Sabella said.
“Eating human flesh is like nothing, really,” said fellow survivor Carlitos Páez, the son of a Uruguayan artist.
Bayes said he has worked traveling the world giving lectures about his ordeal in the mountains.
“I went six million miles on American Airlines,” he said. “I am doomed to tell this story forever, just as the Beatles always have to sing a song yesterday.”