Airplane accident: Uruguayan rugby team forced to consume the flesh of the deceased to stay alive… Remembrance of the 1972 crash.

La présence conjointe pour la première fois en Coupe du monde du Chili et de l’Uruguay a ravivé le souvenir de l’accident d’avion de 1972 dans les Andes qui avait endeuillé un club uruguayen, parti jouer un match au Chili, dont treize « héritiers » vont participer au Mondial-2023.

On October 13, 1972, Flight 571 of the Uruguayan Air Force took off from Mendoza, Argentina, with 45 people on board, including the Old Christians team from Montevideo and some of their loved ones. They were headed to Santiago, Chile, to compete against the Old Boys team, but they would never reach their destination.

While flying over the Argentine side of the Andes mountain range, their Fairchild FH-227 crashes and breaks into multiple pieces on a glacier at an altitude of 3600 meters due to the pilot’s incorrect navigation estimation.

Abandonnés et coupés de l’extérieur

Twelve people are killed instantly, and five others will die from their injuries within the next 48 hours. The remaining 28 survivors, unable to communicate with the outside world, then take shelter in the main wreckage of the aircraft to endure the cold and wind, rationing the limited amount of food they have.

Learning through a portable radio that the search efforts to find them are abandoned after a week, the majority of them reluctantly resort to consuming the flesh of the deceased pilot, as well as their friends who did not survive the crash and whose bodies are preserved in the snow.

Eight new victims were claimed by an avalanche.

Un peu plus de deux semaines après l’accident, et alors que certains envisagent de partir en expédition pour chercher des secours, une avalanche les surprend en pleine nuit et recouvre l’avion, faisant huit nouvelles victimes.

Knowing that their salvation will only come through their own initiatives, after several unsuccessful expedition attempts, two of them, Fernando Parrado and Dr. Roberto Canessa, manage to cross the mountain range that surrounds them and after ten days of walking, reach a valley where they encounter a farmer who alerts the authorities.

Amigos in Rugby. Survivors of the Miracle in the Andes unite for the Friendship Cup commemorating 50 years since the fateful event. With me are Roy Harley, Antonio Vizintin, Santiago Slinger (Uruguay President) & Nando Parrado

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Les 14 autres survivants restés dans l’avion – quatre personnes sont décédées de froid, de malnutrition et de déshydratation pendant les 70 jours passés en montagne – seront secourus par hélicoptère les 22 et 23 décembre 1972.

Une coupe de l’amitié en commémoration

To commemorate this accident, a friendship cup (Copa de la Amistad) is organized every year between the Old Christians and the Old Boys who were supposed to face each other in 1972, one time in Montevideo and one time in Santiago.

Among the Uruguayan and Chilean players participating in the 2023 World Cup, thirteen have been trained or have passed through these two clubs: the « Teros » Manuel Ardao, Manuel Diana, Ignacio Peculo, Santiago Arata, and Tomás Inciarte, and the « Condores » Tomás Dussaillant, Pablo Huete, Clemente Saavedra, Martín Sigren, Marcelo Torrealba, Benjamín Videla, Domingo Saavedra, and Santiago Videla.

Uruguay, participating in its fifth World Cup, will be in Group A with France, New Zealand, Italy, and Namibia. Chile, a newcomer to the World Cup and led by Uruguayan Pablo Lemoine, will compete in Group D alongside England, Argentina, Japan, and Samoa.