The ultimate survival story of Nando Parrado, who survived an airplane crash and 72 days in the Andes
Nando Parrado was one of the 16 survivors of a plane crash in the Andes. The charter plane they boarded was crashed when the plane’s wing hit the slope of the mountain. On impact, 13 passengers were instantly dead while 32 others were badly wounded. Nando’s mother and sister also died in the same crash. The survivors waited in the freezing -37°C temperature in the hope of rescue. Food and water were so scarce that everyone had to manage with whatever was available and drank melting snow as water. They slept side by side to keep themselves warm.
But shortage of food and water became the main concern for the survivors. The survivors called for an important meeting after 9th day of the crash. In dire desperation and hunger, one of the survivors proposed that they should eat the dead. Finally all of them concluded with the decision that if any one of them dies in the Andes, the rest had the permission to use the corpse as food. Because eating the dead was the only option left with them.
After two months on the mountain, Parrado finally volunteered to go and seek help. With his close friend and team mate Roberto Canessa, Parrado left the crash site. They made their way through some of the most rugged mountains in the world without a map or compass. He along with Roberto Canessa climbed through the Andes for over 10 days.
I thought, if someone doesn’t go for help soon, we will die here one by one. I couldn’t blame anyone for doing what was necessary to survive. But I wondered who will be the last one alive? What will he eat? The mountain was like stone. Nothing grew there. What else could we eat but our dead friends? Said Parrado
Nando Parrado narrated that by the time they left, the crash site had turned to an awful place with the smells of dead bodies all around. The place was littered with ragged bits of human bone and gristle and was soaked in urine. Wearing 3 pairs of jeans and 3 sweaters over a polo shirt, he and his friends trekked the mountains with human flesh as their ration. The team walked and climbed for 10 days before finding their way to the bottom of the mountain. The team was finally helped by a Chilean farmer who called the police for help. Parrado then guided the rescue team via a helicopter to the crash site. After enduring 72 brutal days, on 22nd December 1972, the world found out that there were 16 survivors who cheated death in the mountain of Andes, making it as one of the best survival stories of all time.
Nando Parrado was one of the first to let the world know about every awful truth associated with the crash. During the ordeal, Nando Parrado lost more than 40 kg of his weight. But more than anything else, he lost half of his family in the crash. Parrado co-authored the book ‘Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home‘, with Vince Rause. Along with being an Entrepreneur and TV presenter, Parrado is also a motivational speaker.