Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571: The 1972 Plane Crash That Turned Survivors Into Cannibals

By | December 21, 2019

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Where that fateful flight crash landed in the Andes. (vintag.es)

Life sometimes forces extreme solutions to difficult situations. The crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 on October 13, 1972 forced the grizzliest of answers to one of the most impossible questions: Would you eat human flesh to survive? That was the very real, very heart-clenching and gut-busting decision that the surviving members of the 1972 Uruguayan amateur rugby team faced when their plane crash-landed in one of the harshest environments on Earth. Their tale inspired a book, a movie, and undoubtedly, years of nightmares.

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Survivors attempting to keep their spirits high. (People)

The Crash

Can you imagine going from playfully tossing around a rugby ball and joking with your friends to hearing your pilot frantically order you to fasten your seatbelt? Those instructions might freeze your heart even before you look out the window and realize the plane is far, far too close to the mountains. That was the experience of the passengers of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 right before their plane smashed into one of the highest mountain ranges in the world. One surviving member of the team, Roberto Canessa, describes the resulting scene in his book

I was thrown forward with tremendous force and received a powerful blow to my head. I thought "You’re dead." I grabbed my seat and recited a Hail Mary. Someone cried out "Please God, help me, help me!" It was the worst nightmare you can imagine. Another boy was screaming "I'm blind!" When he moved his head, I could see his brain---and a piece of metal sticking out of his stomach.