Here we have a jaw dropping story – Miracle in the Andes. It’s Nando Parrado’s 2006 account of the 1972 Andes Plane Crash. In distressing times it’s always useful to turn to stories which lift the human spirit, and there are few stories as heartbreaking, yet inspiring, as what took place in the Andes mountain range 43 years ago.
The Andes Plane Crash has taken on urban legend type status, with more rumours than truths flying around. The 1974 Piers Paul Read account Alive helped to stave off an early media frenzy into the lives of the 16 survivors, and a 1993 adaptation of the book further fuelled interest in the story. For most people, the mediocre film (starring Ethan Hawke) is how they’ll know the story.
The Andes Plane Crash
It’s only in the last decade the 16 survivors have come forward to discuss the incident in detail. Nando Parrado (now 65) was one of the first to do so, with this remarkable book complemented two years later by the equally remarkable documentary Stranded: I’ve come from a plane that crashed on the mountains. The key difference between the two is Parrado (who lost his mother and sister to the incident) offers a highly personal account of what happened and who he lost.
In October 1972, Parrado and his amateur rugby team-mates were on a flight to a friendly match in Chile when their plane violently crashed into the Andes mountain range. In freezing temperatures, and with no food, the survivors resorted to eating the flesh of their dead friends in order to survive. This is anthropophagy, and not the “cannibalism” which is regularly mistakenly attributed to the Andes Plane Crash.
Ultimately, after two months stranded in the wilderness, Parrado and his friend Roberto Canessa made a last ditch effort to walk out of the mountain range with only a makeshift sleeping bag. This is what Parrado relays in terrifying detail, especially scaling over the initial peaks, in what is a moving but ultimately exceptionally uplifting story.
Indeed, it’s quite possibly the most astonishing tale of overcoming adversity that’s imaginable, and 43 years later 15 of the 16 survivors are alive and well (sadly, 79 year old Javier Methol passed away in June of this year).
As always, we don’t want to give too much away on this one. It really is simply a book everybody should read. If you’d also like to watch Stranded (one of the best documentaries we’ve ever seen, frankly) you can find it in its entirety on YouTube. The trailer is below to peak your interest. Peace and vegetables to all of you, darlings!