'Alive' plane crash survivors recall resorting to cannibalism on anniversary of crash
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On the anniversary of the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 disaster, one of the survivors has spoken about how they resorted to eating human flesh to avoid death.
The incident was famously retold in 1993’s film Alive and also in the best-selling book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read.
16 people survived the 1972 crash after their plane went down during rough weather, which sent the plane crashing into a mountainside, instantly ripping the aircraft’s wings off and killing 12 passengers and crew.
17 more passengers died from their injuries and an avalanche, leading the others to take desperate measures.
This week, the survivors met in Uruguay to reflect on their horrific ordeal, marking the anniversary of the crash and remembering those who perished.
According to the New York Post, 70-year-old Ramon Sabella, who survived 72 days in the Andes, confessed: “Of course, the idea of eating human flesh was terrible, repugnant.”
Sabella continued: “It was hard to put in your mouth. But we got used to it. In a sense, our friends were some of the first organ donors in the world – they helped to nourish us and kept us alive.”
Fellow survivor Carlitos Paez added: “Eating human flesh doesn’t taste like anything, really.”
The group decided to eat the flesh of the deceased passengers after eating the plane’s food, which consisted of a tin of mussels, eight chocolate bars, three jars of jam, some almonds and dates and several bottles of wine.
The 16 survivors, who are now a ‘tight knit’ group of friends, also meet annually on 22 December to commemorate the day the rescue began. They mark the day by enjoying a BBQ.
Ten days after the crash, the survivors heard on a radio that the search for them had been called off, which Sabella said made them ‘more determined’.
He explained: “Thinking of the suffering that must have caused our families at home made us even more determined to survive.”
Addressing life after the crash, Paez said he’s made a career of travelling the world to talk about his ordeal, saying: “I’ve done six million miles on American Airlines. I’m condemned to tell this story for evermore, just like the Beatles always having to sing 'Yesterday'.”
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