Uruguayan Rugby Team In Andes Air Crash
By Patrick Mondout
On Friday, October 13, 1972*, a Fairchild F-227 turboprop belonging to
the Uruguayan Air Force and carrying the Old Christians rugby team plus
friends, relatives, and supporters from Uruguay, crashed in the
Argentinean Andes. The pilot was off course and their reported locations
were incorrect, making the task of finding the site - no easy task in such
a rugged and remote locale even if you know where to look - that much more
Thirteen of the passengers and crew were immediately killed. The mostly
young and athletic survivors (all between the ages of 19 and 33) huddled
around the fuselage of the plane and waited for the inevitable rescue team
to arrive. Night came and went with no sign of help. Another day came and
went and still no rescuers. Two more died due to their injuries. What
little food aboard the plane was quickly consumed.
Search and rescues teams were sent looking for the missing plane but
they looked along the path where they expected the aircraft to have been,
not knowing how badly off course it was when it went down.
Now those who had survived the crash had to deal with hypothermia,
avalanches, anger, depression and... starvation. Robert Canessa (who would
later make an unsuccessful bid for the Uruguayan presidency), a third-year
medical student on the flight, broached the subject of cannibalism to his
starving comrades. Ten days after the crash (and, unbeknownst to them, one
day after the rescue efforts to find the white plane in the white snow was
abandoned), the 19 survivors decided they had no choice but to resort to
On the 16th day, an avalanche struck the fuselage that had become their
home and killed nine more.
Weeks passed and still no rescue. On the 60th day of their ordeal, two
of the stronger survivors decided to make an attempt to hike out of the
mountains and find help. It took them another 12 days but they did find
In all, it took 10 weeks before crash site was found (on December 21st)
and by then three more had died. Their ordeal was made famous by a 1974
book called Alive!
by Piers Paul Read.
*The author is not only not superstitious,
but was born on a Friday the 13th.
|Uraquay Air Force at a Glance|
|Airline||Uraquay Air Force|
|Date||October 13, 1972|
|Crew Fatalities||5 of 5|
|Passenger Fatalities||24 of 40|
|Total Fatalities||29 of 45|
Air Safety References:
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Share Your Memories!
What do you remember about this crash? Were you a witness? Have you any compelling stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)
Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read became a bestseller and remains in print 30 years later.
Airline: Uraquay Air Force
Location: Andes (Argentina)
Aircraft: Fairchild F-227
Date: October 13, 1972
Total Fatalities: 29 of 45