Friday, April 1, 2011

The Andes Accident

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.

Desperate owing to the lack of food and physically exhausted, they were forced to feed themselves on their death partners to keep on living.(A meeting was held in the interior of the airplane and, because the meager food supplies had run out and there were neither vegetables nor anything else to eat, they decided to nourish themselves with the corpses of their companions. Canessa took the initiative although some others refused to eat.)

 Finally fed up with the extremely low temperatures and the avalanche threats, as well as anguished by the continuos deaths of their partners and the bad rescue prospects, two of them decided to cross the huge mountains to reach Chile.
On 22nd of December of 1972, after being isolated for 72 days, the World found out and knew there were 16 survivors that beat Death in the Andes mountains.
On the 18th January of 1973, 27 days after the survivors rescue, a patrol made up by many members of the Andinian Help Corps and a Chilean priest, were taken by helicopter to the Fairchild remains. There, few metres away from the plane, they set up camp with the idea of spending there some days. They gathered all the body remains, that were round the Fairchild and the mountain, together.

80 metres away from the plane they found an area, which seemed to be out of avalanche risks and it also had enough land as to dig a grave. They dug a big hole helped with shovels and picks. There they buried the accident victims.
Near the grave they built up a rustic stone altar with an orange iron cross above it, in which lies the inscription:
“EL MUNDO A SUS HERMANOS URUGUAYOS” (the world to its Uruguayan brothers) on one side and “CERCA, OH DIOS DE TI” (close, oh God, to you) on the other.

In the end, the priest celebrated Mass and said a sermon to the people present. Later the Andinists went back to the Fairchild remains, sprayed it with gasoline and set it on fire. They decided that their work had finished, and encouraged by the threatening noise of the avalanches they agreed to live the place.



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