Monday, October 15, 2012

Alive - 40 Years On

In 1972, 40 years ago almost to the day (actually the 13th), a medium-sized plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team plus friends & family crashed in the Andes. Of the 45 passengers, twelve died in the crash, several more from injuries, and yet more from an avalanche which buried the plane a few days later. The rest survived in sub-zero temperatures and dwindling food. And when the food ran out, they were forced to eat their dead friends. The place was so remote that rescuers couldn't find them.
Finally, two of them, Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, decided to cross an incredibly high mountain range, ending up in Chile and reached a remote village. After 72 days rescue finally came.
I can clearly remember reading The Observer magazines serialization of the story a year or so later, in advance of Piers Paul Reed's book. I was an impressionable 12-year-old and would be first up on a Sunday morning to collect the Sunday papers from the front door mat. I would put on Focus or something and read the next part of the saga over toast & marmalade. I can still remember every detail of the saga and several of the survivors' names. Aside from the book, there's been a (good) 1993 film, and just recently a TV documentary. And there's a comprehensive website (mainly in Spanish). It continues to enthrall me.

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