Plane crash is like an ancient Greek tragedy i.e.an utter destruction by other’s fault. But what if you survive and ‘unfortunately’ get a chance to survive as living in the Stone Age. Similarly Survival means absolute happiness but what if circumstances obstruct you to do so. Uruguayan Air Force flight 571, a crash or a tragic survival? Remembered as a Miracle of the Andes, is a true expression of the above paradoxical ideas. On 13th of October in 1972, Andes Mountains observed an unusual crash of an airplane .This flight was planned by a Uruguayan recreational rugby team, moving from Montevideo (Uruguay) to Santiago (Chile) to play the match. It was reported about the wreckage that it took two or more months to get located. Moreover, only 16 passengers survived while other 29 met their destiny due to collision of the plane and cruelty of weather. This very suffering got its international fame when ‘Cannibalism’ revealed to be the logical key for the survival of those plucky 16s.
Departure from Carrasco International Airport
The dual-engine turboprop in 1972 left the Carrasco International Airport, carrying 45 travelers including kinsmen and friends of the Rugby team members, head toward the Santiago. Indication of bad weather compelled them to spend a night in Mendoza (Argentina). Technically, the plane was unable to fly high, so the route was chosen out of the way to pass the Andes Mountains safely. More than one hour passed of the take-off, the turmoil started between the controllers and the pilot. This chaotic misjudgment of the location caused the plane to lose its contact from Control towers.
The Partial Crash
It was 3:30 PM when on 13th of October, the plane confronted a mountain and lost its wings one after another and finally crashed into Argentinean valley of nowhere but for sure near the Chilean premises. Right next step was the search for the missing craft and yes it was started over the reported region of crash. What made this search ‘unsuccessful’ were the snowy mountains which camouflaged the smashed body. The ruthless climate lent a firm belief of zero survivors and added more desperation into the search operation. Eventually on 20th of October, the efforts were announced to be abandoning officially.
Survival with salvage
The collision instantly ate up 12 people while leaving many others injured. Fortunate but desperate 33 passengers initially bore the hard slaps of freezing temperatures during their stay at an altitude of almost 3,500 m. Fuselage of the plane barely facilitate the survivors with food for a week only including candies and other canned stuff like that. At this point of nothingness when foam and covers of the seats were not working as a food for them, they decided to pursue an inhumane action with a very heavy heart- Anthropophagi (Cannibalism). Emotionally this bloody idea of eating corpses of their nearer and dearer people made them sick. Controversies definitely have to arise regarding Christianity. The fear of becoming a sinner occupied their mind but the Last Supper of the Jesus delivered them a hope. According to their justification, Jesus presented his bread and wine to his followers as his body and blood respectively.
Within few weeks, six more survivors reached to their expiry. But what happened on 29th of October was not less than a great devastation for the passengers. An avalanche unexpectedly ate up eight more man. Moreover it also blocked a part of fuselage.
A hope of Rescue
During this period time, many survivors tried to find the way out of that remote area. It was the 12th of December when three passengers decided for a long search of help. Later on, one of them came back to wreckage. After a challenging hike, on 20th of December both of the survivors came across the three cattle-men in the pastoral area of Los Maitenes (Chile). As both parties were on the opposite sides of the river so they communicated through written messages (due to the din of river water). The Chileans signaled to convey their message to the authorities.
December 22 was the day when the survivors of Uruguayan Air force flight 571 watched the other earthlings after spending two months of home sickness. Two helicopters approached the wreckage and provided safety to the survivors in two shifts.
Agitation for Cannibals
Cannibalism committed by the survivors initially created a hate for them but later on these men were pardoned by the Church on the behalf of Last Supper belief of Jesus and bent the thinking of common people. This nightmare stacked up a treasure for several books, films and travelogues including Alive in 1974 and great hit of big screen in 1993.