In 1972 a plane carrying 45 people, including a Uruguayan rugby team and their family and friends, crashed into the desolate, frigid, and unforgiving Andes mountains. 29 people survived the crash.
A few days later, an avalanche took 8 more lives when it flooded their makeshift shelter.
Search parties from three countries looked for the missing plane, but the search was called off after eight days.
The survivors, having found a small transistor radio on the plane, heard that the search had been cancelled.
Here’s an excerpt from the book Alive, describing this moment:
“The others who had clustered around Roy, upon hearing the news, began to sob and pray, all except
Parrado, who looked calmly up the mountains which rose to the west. Gustavo Nicolich came out of the plane and, seeing their faces, knew what they had heard…Nicolich climbed through the hole in the wall of suitcases and rugby shirts, crouched at the mouth of the dim tunnel, and looked at the mournful faces which were turned towards him.
“Hey boys,” he shouted, ‘there’s some good news! We just heard on the radio. They’ve called off the search.”
Inside the crowded plane there was silence. As the hopelessness of their predicament enveloped them, they wept.
“Why the hell is that good news?” Paez shouted angrily at Nicolich.
“Because it means,” Nicolich said, “that we’re going to get out of here on our own.”
72 days later, two of the passengers – Nando Parrado and Roberto Cannesa – hiked through the Andes to civilization. The remaining 16 survivors were rescued thanks to their 10-day trek.
Alive – By Paul read