The Horrifying Story Of Plane Crash Survivors Trapped In A Glacier For Months Survivors Were Forced to Eat Human Flesh!

The Horrifying Story Of Plane Crash Survivors Trapped In A Glacier For Months | Survivors Were Forced to Eat Human Flesh!

In 1972, a flight carrying a Uruguayan rugby team became the center of one of the most extraordinary survival stories ever recorded. Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed into the isolated Andes Mountains. Out of the 45 passengers, only 16 survived the disaster. It left the survivors to protect themselves under the harshest conditions imaginable. Stranded on a glacier, with no food and inadequate shelter, they faced a chilling reality. Rescue teams were only able to locate the wreckage and survivors after two months. In a turn of events, the survivors had to eat human flesh to stay alive! Let’s have a closer look into the details of this horrifying story. 

The Fateful Journey: Departure and Crash

The story begins with the Old Christians Club rugby team’s journey from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile. On October 12, 1972, the twin-engined Fairchild turboprop departed the Carrasco International Airport. The vessel carried 5 crew members along with 40 passengers. The passengers were not just club members. They also included friends, family, and others on board. 

Adverse weather conditions took a toll and the pilot misjudged the location. Along with a tragic navigational error, the flight crashed into a mountain in a lonely valley near the Chilean border. The plane lost its wings and lost its communication with the Chillean tower. Of the 45 people on board, the initial crash claimed 12 lives. The rest of the survivors were injured and stranded at an altitude of about 11,500 feet. 

The rescue teams had trouble locating the wreck and the survivors in the mountains with the heavy snow. However, survivors claim to have seen some planes flying above them, without exactly spotting their location. They faced the immediate challenge of survival in the freezing cold with almost no provisions.

andes plane crash
Image source: The Mirror
andes plane crash
Image source: Brittanica

Forced To Eat Flesh Of The Dead To Stay Alive!

The survivors faced brutal conditions. Sub-zero temperatures, snow, and wind, with only the plane’s fuselage for shelter. They faced an alarming shortage of food. Their light amount of supplies including candy bars, wine, etc. ran out within a week. With no food, but a will to survive they took the most unimaginable decision. 

After a long and heavy-hearted discussion, they decided to resort to cannibalism. They started eating the flesh of those who couldn’t survive. It sparked ethical debates but ultimately was seen as a necessary act of survival. In the next few weeks, six other passengers passed away. On October 29, an avalanche hit the fuselage and buried it completely. It was filled with snow, leading to eight more deaths. Despite the grim circumstances, stories of courage and leadership emerged.

The Long Wait for Rescue: Expeditions and Discovery

As days turned into weeks, the survivors made several attempts to signal for help. They even set out on expeditions across the mountains in search of rescue. One such group of “expeditionaries” eventually made contact with the outside world.

On December 12, with 16 survivors, three expeditionaries went out to seek help. After a difficult walk, two men finally made contact with three herdsmen in the village of Los Maitenes, Chile. Yet, the Chileans stood on the other side of a river. The noise of the river made it difficult for them to hear what the survivors were saying. 

The herdsmen told them that they would return the next day. Early the next morning, the herdsmen came back. The survivors communicated by writing messages on paper. They wrapped the notes around a rock and tossed them across the water. The first note mentioned, “I come from a plane that fell in the mountains.” 

Soon the authorities were informed. Thankfully, on December 22 two helicopters were sent to the wreckage. Six survivors were taken out of the mountains. Bad weather disrupted the rescue mission once again and the remaining eight were rescued the next day. The survivors were rescued after more than two months of isolation. 

Image source: Euronews (Six of the sixteen survivors of the plane crash)
Image source: Fox News

Aftermath: Reflections and Transformations

The survivors’ return to civilization faced a media frenzy. The media focused particularly on their means of survival. The public’s initial shock and horror gradually gave way to a broader understanding of the desperate measures taken. In interviews and later records, including the film “Society of the Snow,” survivor Roberto Canessa reflects on the transformation from rugby player to plane crash survivor.


The story of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 remains a poignant reminder of the extremes of human survival and the indomitable will to live. This story, blending historical fact with a narrative of profound human experience, offers insights not only into a remarkable event but also into the resilience inherent in all of us, encouraging a deeper appreciation for life’s value and the strength found in community and determination.

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