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1972 Andes Flight Disaster
Transcript of 1972 Andes Flight Disaster
Over a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. The Search Cannibalism A chartered flight of 45 people, a rugby team along with their friends and family to Chile for a Rugby game.
Oct. 12, 1972
Carrasco International Airport
Mendoza International Airport
Santiago, Chile Search parties from three countries looked for the missing plane. Since the plane was white, the snow made it nearly impossible to spot from the air. One of the survivors tried to write SOS on top of the plane in red lipstick. However they abandoned that idea. The survivors had little food:
-a few chocolate bars
-several bottles of wine (later used to collect water).
During the days following the crash they divided out this food in very small amounts so as not to exhaust their meager supply. Survival Search Survivors vs. Mountains Eight of the initial survivors died on the afternoon of 29 October when an avalanche cascaded down on them as they slept in the fuselage.
For three days they survived in an appallingly confined space since the plane was buried under several feet of snow. Passengers on the plane. A plane similar to fight 571. The initial search was canceled after eight days. The survivors of the crash had found a small transistor radio on the plane and Roy Harley first heard the news that the search was canceled on their 11th day on the mountain. Even with strict rationing, their food stock dwindled quickly. There was no natural vegetation or animals on the snow-covered mountain. They survived by collectively making a decision to eat the flesh from their dead friends.
Most initially had reservations, although after realizing that it was their only means of staying alive, they changed their minds a few days later. Parrado drinking water in the tail of the plane. Shelter - Survivors in the tail of the plane. Before the avalanche, a few of the survivors became insistent that their only way of survival would be to climb over the mountains to search for help. The co-pilot we certain that the plane had passed Curico (he was completely wrong, the real position was more than 55 miles (89 km) to the east deep in the Andes), the group assumed that the Chilean countryside was just a few miles away to the west.
In actuality, the plane had crashed inside Argentina, and unknown to the survivors, just 18 miles (29 km) west of an abandoned hotel named the Hotel Termas Sosneado. Several brief expeditions were made in the immediate vicinity of the plane in the first few weeks after the crash, but the expeditionaries found that a combination of altitude sickness, dehydration, snow blindness, malnourishment and the extreme cold of the nights made climbing any significant distance an impossible task. Although the expeditionaries were hoping to get to Chile, a large mountain lay due west of the crash site. The expeditionaries initially headed east, hoping that at some point the valley that they were in would do a U-turn and allow them to start walking west. After several hours of walking east, the trio unexpectedly found the tail section of the plane, which was still largely intact. Within and surrounding the tail were numerous suitcases that had belonged to the passengers, containing cigarettes, candy, clean clothing and even some comic books.
The group decided to camp there that night inside the tail section, and continue east the next morning. However, on the second night of the expedition, which was their first night sleeping outside exposed to the elements, the group nearly froze to death. After some debate the next morning, they decided that it would be wiser to return to the tail, remove the plane's batteries and bring them back to the fuselage so that they might power up the radio and make an SOS call to Santiago for help. It was decided that a group of expeditionaries would be chosen, allocated the most rations of food and the warmest of clothes, and spared the daily manual labor around the crash site, so that they might build their strength. Several survivors were determined to be on the expedition team no matter what, Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, one of the two medical students.
Others were less willing or unsure of their ability to withstand such a physically exhausting ordeal. From the rest of the passengers, Numa Turcatti and Antonio Vizintin were chosen to accompany Canessa and Parrado. At Canessa's urging, the expeditionaries waited nearly seven weeks, to allow for the arrival of spring, and with it higher temperatures. Expeditions Upon returning to the tail, they found that the batteries were too heavy to take back to the fuselage. They decided instead that it would be more effective to return to the fuselage and disconnect the radio from the plane, and take it to the batteries, to try calling for help. One of the other team members, Roy Harley, was an amateur electronics enthusiast, they recruited his help.
Unknown to any of the team members was the fact that the plane's electrical system used alternating current while the batteries in the tail naturally produced direct current, making the plan futile from the beginning. After several days of trying to make the radio work at the tail, the expeditionaries gave up and returned to the fuselage with the knowledge that they would in fact have to climb out of the mountains if they were to have any hope of being rescued. Radio It was now apparent that the only way out was to climb over the mountains to the west. They realized that unless they found a way to survive the freezing temperature of the nights, a trek was impossible. The idea for a sleeping bag was brought up.
After the sleeping bag was completed and another survivor, Numa Turcatti, died from his injuries, the hesitant Canessa was finally persuaded to set out, and the three expeditionaries took to the mountain on 12 December. Sleeping Bag On 12 December 1972, some two months after the crash, Parrado, Canessa and Vizintín began their trek up the mountain. Parrado took the lead, thin oxygen made the group frequently slow down. It was still bitterly cold but the sleeping bag allowed them to live through the nights.
On the third day of the trek, Parrado reached the top of the mountain before the other two expeditionaries. Stretched before him as far as the eye could see were more mountains. In fact, he had just climbed one of the mountains (as high as 15,260 ft) which forms the border between Argentina and Chile, they were still tens of kilometers from the green valleys of Chile.
After spying a small "Y" in the distance, he gauged that a way out of the mountains must lie beyond, and refused to give up hope. Knowing that the hike would take more energy than they had originally planned for, Parrado and Canessa sent Vizintín back to the crash site, they were rapidly running out of rations. Since the return was entirely downhill, it only took him one hour to get back to the fuselage using a makeshift sled. The Final Trek 12th of December Finding Help Parrado and Canessa hiked for several more days. They followed the river and finally reached the end of the snowline. Gradually, there appeared more and more signs of human presence, first some signs of camping, and finally on the ninth day, some cows.
They rested that evening, Canessa seemed unable to proceed futher. Canessa noticed something that looked like a man on horseback across the river bank. At first it seemed that Canessa had been imagining the man on the horse, but eventually they saw three men on horseback. Divided by Portillo River, Parrado and Canessa tried to convey their situation, but the noise of the river made communication difficult.
A chilean horsemen shouted to the men across the river, "tomorrow". The horsemen brought Parrado and Canessa loaves of bread and a pen and paper tied to a rock. The en devoured the bread, and Parrado scribed their situation on the paper.
The following morning the rescue expedition left Santiago, and after a stop in San Fernando, moved eastwards. Parrado was recruited to fly back to the mountain in order to guide the helicopters to the remaining survivors. The morning of rescue day, those remaining at the crash site heard on their radio that Parrado and Canessa had been successful in finding help and that afternoon. On 22 December 1972, two helicopters carrying search and rescue climbers arrived. However, the expedition (with Parrado onboard) was not able to reach the crash site until the afternoon. The weather was bad and the rescuers were only able to take half of the survivors. The Mountain Rescue They departed, leaving the rescue team and remaining survivors at the crash site to once again sleep in the fuselage, until a second expedition with helicopters could arrive the following morning. The second expedition arrived at daybreak on 23 December and all 16 survivors were rescued. All of the survivors were taken to hospitals in Santiago and treated for altitude sickness, dehydration, frostbite, broken bones, scurvy and malnutrition. 40 Years Later... The surviving members of a Uruguayan rugby team have a match postponed four decades ago when their plane crashed in the Andes, stranding them for 72 days and forcing them to eat human flesh to stay alive.
The Old Christians squared off on Saturday in Santiago against the Old Grangonian, the former Chilean rugby team they were supposed to play back in 1972 when their flight went down.
During the anniversary ceremony military jets flew over the field, dropping parachutists draped in Chilean and Uruguayan flags. In a corner, survivors wept when officials unveiled a commemorative frame with pictures of those who died.
Another survivor Daniel Fernandez, 66, held the trophy that would have been the reward for the game to be played the day of the crash. Postponed Rugby Match Former members of the Old Christians rugby team hold a minute's silence after unveiling a plaque in memory of those who died. Photograph: Luis Andres Henao/AP