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(exciting orchestral music)

(crowd chattering)

- I'm so excited, I've never been away from home before.

- Maybe I should go with you.


- [Narrator] The story you are about to see is true.

It is one of the strangest episodes ever recorded

in the annals of human endurance.

In 1972, a college rugby team in Uruguay

was asked to play a match in Chile.

They chartered an airplane to take them across the Andes.

They had no way of knowing

that they were stepping into an ultimate test of survival.

- You know what I really think?

All you medical students are crazy.

- Shut up, Oso!

- Wait until we're doctors and you get sick,

then we'll really fix you up--

- Ladies and gentlemen,

we're flying over Buenos Aires.

- What is it?

You look very worried.

- Oh, you know, I'm just a tourist.

- We have your nephew, and he's enough to handle!

(light rock music)

- Nelson, hurry, please, where's the camera?

- I can't.

I promised my brother no one would touch it.

That I got his camera no matter what.

- He's loaned it to me before.

Will you come on?

- Hey, watch out, that's my foot!

- Can you please turn your transistor off?

It's interfering with the instruments on our aircraft.

(exciting orchestral music)

- [Narrator] According to the flight plan,

the plane was to fly nonstop from Montevideo to Santiago.

Crossing the Andes was difficult,

especially in a low-flying plane.

The most seasoned pilots were wary of these mountains.

Strong winds blowing off the Pacific Ocean

would generate severe turbulence

when they reached the mountain canyons.

There were usually four passes available to air flight.

Four ways of cutting safely through the snow-covered peaks.

- Right, then I read you.

Over and out.

The news has just reported that the pass at Juncal

is completely shut, we can't go through.

The same conditions exist at Nieves and Alvarado.

They're closed.

The only route open is through Planchon Pass.

We are now about to fly over Curicó to Planchon.

- There had been a navigational miscalculation.

The plane was not over Curicó at all.

It was slightly off course.

The date was Friday the 13th.

- We are now flying past Curicó

and we are about to approach the Planchon Pass.

- Altitude?

- We're at 17,000.

- Take it up another 2,100.

- We are going up to 19,100.

- We are approaching some minor air turbulence,

so fasten your seatbelts, and no smoking, please.

- [Narrator] Heavy clouds had built up.

It was impossible to sight the pass.

- Get on the VR.

- VR is tuned in.

- Choose course 237.

- Course 237.

- [Narrator] A tragic error had been made.

The plane was much too low.

They were flying directly into the mountains.

(tense orchestral music)



(wind howling)


- Boyce!

Are you all right?

Oh my God!



Scott, look!


(light orchestral music)

Oso, Oso, what is it?

Oso! - Please don't touch me.

- Don't touch me please! - Hold on.

- You're gonna be okay.

Let me put this under your hand.

Hold on, lie still!

- You hear me, you're alright!


- Ma!



- Stay still.

Hold it now.

- Mama! - Hold it now, coach.

- I'll look for her, you stay here.

- Mama!

No, please!

- Sit down.

- Calling for help.

Aircraft 623.

Calling for help.

- Oh, Mama.


- Juan, you okay?

- Yeah, I think so.

- Oh my God, Jesus, oh my God!

- I can't reach flight 623, they don't answer.

They should've checked in five minutes ago.

What do you think?

- They don't show on the radar either.

They must have gone down over the mountains,

so don't wait any longer.

Alert air search and rescue service for immediate action.

(energetic orchestral music)

- We have search planes out and ground rescue units

and so far there's nothing.

The plane should have been located

in the area just beyond Curicó.

- Unless they shortcut through another path,

I don't see how the plane could have reached Curicó.

- I'm sorry, we can't answer those questions.

We have to figure out just where they are.

- Well, we must remember the crosswinds.

They flow north about in this area, toward Planchon.

Then west for awhile for maybe another six or seven minutes.

In this area, we have Mount Paloma.

Its summit is close to 17,000 feet.

And mount Tinguiririca, which is 21,000 feet.

Now, then here on this side,

the mountain Soneado, which is higher than the others.

- Ah yes, west of Curicó.

Right here is where we search.

- [Narrator] Their calculations were incorrect.

The plane had not passed Curicó.

Another critical mistake had been made.

The wreckage was actually many miles away.

(upbeat orchestral music)

- Five, calling unit five.

Come in please, over.

Rescue patrol now leaving area number three, over and out.

- Listen, I think we better go outside.

We must bury the dead.

(somber orchestral music)

- [All] Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for our sinners,

now and at the hour of our death, amen.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


- Over there.

- Antonio, let's see if you and I

can remove the pilot from the cabin.

- We'd better undress the bodies as we bury them.

We'll need all of their clothes to try to keep warm.

- It's hopeless, we can't!

- Raoul, over here!

Look, it's the coach!

- He's still alive!

- I've searched all over, couldn't even find an aspirin.

Has to be some somewhere.

- There has to be.

- Look, I found soap and cologne!

- Where's the cologne?

Oso needs surgery.

- Surgery, here?

- I don't have any choice.

The cologne might sterilize his wounds.

- Over there.

I saw a purse with a needle and some thread in it.

Maybe you can use that.

- Go get it.

- Thanks, I can do the rest myself.


- [Narrator] The original flight had 40 passengers

and five crew members.

Only 28 passengers survived the crash.

The entire crew had perished.

Some passengers had brought food on the trip.

The survivors now took stock.

They had 20 chocolate bars, 12 tins of fish,

some cheese and marmalade,

and 40 quarts of wine.

They decided to carefully ration their supplies,

and began to prepare themselves

against the freezing temperatures.

- Wait, you better not eat that.

It'll give you stomach cramps.

You have to melt it.

- Here are some matches.

- But what are we gonna burn?

I gathered some paper and some magazines, that's all.

But I don't think that's enough, though.

- We got lots of money.

We could collect our cash and burn it.

Burning money is sure easier than I thought.

- But what do you mean there's no news yet?

- My friends, believe me,

we're doing everything possible to find them.

Just try to have patience.

- But you've searched almost a week,

and yet there is nothing at all.

Not a single clue.

- It's frustrating, sir.

You must understand, the plane's snow white,

making it very difficult to see.

Plus you must realize how perilous

these expeditions are now.

- Please excuse me Major.

- What is it?

- Excuse me, excuse me.

Please, gentlemen.

- Excuse me a minute.

Is there some news, Major?

- I don't know, Ariste.

Wait a moment.

Excuse me.

- Some news of my boy...

- I'm sorry, nothing yet.

Excuse me.

Make way, please.

Make way, make way.

So this much we do know,

that the plane went down on October the 13th.

Yet you say you saw it on October 15th.

Are you sure you're not mistaken?

- No, I'm sure.

Like I told you, sir,

I will never, ever forget it.

That plane was very bright, and painted...

Painted orange.

- Orange?


Well done, you can go home now.

Thank you for helping.

- This way.

- They come out of the woodwork, don't they,

with all of their fantasies.

And the press is after us, I'm afraid.

So we should send all our experienced men

to explore the territory of Tinguiririca.

- A plane?

Where is it?

- I don't see it.

- Bernardas, there it is. - Where?

- I can see it, there it is! - I can see it!

- We're safe!

- Where? - There!

(survivors shouting)

- What's wrong with him?

- Help, help, come back!


- It's all right darling, they'll find us.

- Well?

- Nothing.

I don't see how they can be alive.

The temperature's so low, without protection,

it just doesn't seem possible.

- Yet, if they do survive, where do they find food?

There is nothing there.

- I think you're right,

and if by some miracle they are alive...

They cannot last.

There isn't anything that they can eat aboard that airplane.

(tense orchestral music)

- What?

Where'd you find those?

- The pilot's cabin, here.



- Shut up!

Make him stop!

All that moaning is driving me out of my mind!

- Let him be, you stupid fool!

Don't you see the man is dying?

- What do you think I'm doing?

My stomach's in pieces, but you don't see me screaming!


- Come on, let go of him! - Let go of him!

- Come on you guys, settle down.

Come on, sit down.

I said stop it!

You're behaving like a bunch of spoiled children!

We gotta grow up damn fast.

It's happened, we're here.

Let's deal with it!

- We must be strong.

Raoul is right, we have to stick together

or we won't get out of this!

- Sorry.


(helicopter whirring)

- Gentlemen...

It's been eight days now.

We've mobilized 54 planes and helicopters.

But we haven't found anything.

Anything at all.

I'm afraid it's time to face some truths,

even though they're unpleasant.

The fact is that no one has found a trace of the plane.

Therefore, we are regrettably forced to admit that we have

surrendered all hope.

- Oh my God, no!


- So we've decided to end the search.

- My son is alive.

I know he's alive.

- Ah, my dear Arista.

It simply is not possible.

- I know he's there.

My son is up there.



(dramatic orchestral music)

- Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

on Earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for our sinners,

now and at the hour of our death, amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for our sinners,

now and at the hour of our death, amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for our sinners,

now and at the hour of our death, amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for our sinners,

now and at the hour of our death, amen.

- Senora Madero!

Senora Madero, come, please.

- Your nephew's dead.

Trying to keep my sister warm.


- They're not going to see us at all

in this kind of weather.

- We'll have to do something.

There's hardly any food left.

- There could be some food inside the tail section.

- Hey, I think maybe you're right.

The kitchen was in the tail section,

so it makes sense that there would be some food.

- A lot of good that'll do us.

The tail section is way out past the ridge of the mountain.

- How will we ever be able to find it?

- There are things in there

like the large batteries made of nickel and cadmium.

There are ways that they can be made usable,

for instance, we can build a sled,

and then slide them down the slopes

and connect them to the radio transmitter,

which is still intact in the captain's cabin,

and then we can send distress signals, understand?

And we can keep sending them until somebody hears them.

- I know I can operate that radio, Rojas.

- Fine, and maybe there's some equipment and antibiotics,

and amphetamines, and some bandages,

and some sedatives, and God only knows what else!

- Right, we can't stay here like this.

If Frederico would have had the proper medicine,

maybe he would've lived.

- Then let's go.

God, the supplies might save my sister!

- I think we must try. - Me too.

- Look, I'll go along.

- I agree that we should organize an expedition.

We need those supplies,

but it's impossible to climb the mountains

through those enormous snow drifts.

- I agree.

The snow is so soft and deep.

Remember how Carmelo sank in the snow and disappeared?

It's probably impossible to even navigate.

- Wait a minute, we can take the seats and cut them apart,

and make the foam rubber into some snow shoes,

and then we can tie ourselves together

with all of the safety belts.

(bright orchestral music)

- [Narrator] Three of the boys were selected

for the trip to the tail section.

Their direction was west.

Indeed, their entire orientation

toward rescue and escape was westward.

This was a fateful error.

Had they walked east that afternoon,

they would not have discovered the tail section,

but would instead have come upon a resort hotel

only five miles away.

It was closed down for the winter,

but it had firewood, canned food, and maps.

Ironically, they were headed in the wrong direction.

- Look!

We've found it!

- Just as figured.

I can't tell who he is.

- Here are the batteries.

Help me lift them.

These can save us, if they only work.

Now come on, lift.

We'll call for help

once we connect those things to the radio.

- Dammit, they're heavy.

How do we get them back?

We need some more help, let's go back.

- But do you think the batteries

will operate the radio all right?

- Who knows, we just have to try, that's all.

- Let's go get them.

- It won't be easy.

They're heavy, and the snow is deep.

- You're doing it backwards.

Let's take the radio with us, and connect it there.

- That makes sense.

- Cross your fingers.

(radio buzzing)

The tubes are warming up.



Well, ruined.

It was nothing but a waste of time.

- Look, the trip was worth it.

We got some supplies.

And medicine, and clothes, and even a transistor radio.

- Maybe the transistor will give us some news.

Let's load up the sled and go back.

(spirited orchestral music)

(light rock music)

- Hey!

- It's okay, the radio's still working!

- It's been almost three weeks

since our plane went down.

There are only 26 of us left.

We try to think of the plane as a hotel.

I know we're going to be rescued.


Our faith in God keeps growing.

- [Announcer] We interrupt our program to bring you

the latest bulletin about the young athletes,

whose plane was lost in the Andes.

- Listen, they're talking about us!

Maybe they know where we are!

- [Announcer] The Air Force has turned down a request

by parents of the athletes to resume the search,

which was suspended last week

after a concerted effort by military rescue units

had failed to find any trace of the plane.

45 people are presumed dead in this tragic accident,

which has drawn the attention and sympathy

of the entire world.

A requiem mass for the victims

will be held in Montevideo next Sunday.

We now return you to our regular programming.

(somber orchestral music)

- Thank God it's done.

Now our waiting for help from the outside is finally over.

Now, with God's help, we'll do it on our own.

- My dear Seniorista, how may I help?

- You own Mount Addaira.

I think my son's flight crashed there.

- I don't understand.

Yes, I have a lot of land in the Andes,

including Addaira, that's true.

But the Air Force search was located west of Curicó.

- I know that.

But I think they were wrong.

- Well, that does seem odd.

They're usually quite efficient,

and have known their business well.

- My wife saw a psychic.

He said he saw my son alive on Mount Addaira.

- Now listen, I don't like to recognize psychics

but nevertheless I have to admit

there are some things in this world

that defy natural explanation.

- Well, my eldest son will be back around 2:30.

Perhaps my younger sons can help.

- You think you could organize an expedition tomorrow?

To Mount Addaira?

- Oh no, the snow is much too deep.

- But if we could talk to the mountain men,

is there some way we could reach them?

- No, sir.

A few days ago an avalanche closed the road completely.

There's no way up there at all.

- You could go by foot, sir, of course.

But the snow is at least 10 feet deep

and you'll never be able to get through it alive right now.

- You see, even if those people are alive,

they can't be reached.

- Then how could they ever survive?

(somber orchestral music)

- Silvia's dead.

Silvia's dead.


(dramatic orchestral music)

- I'm hungry.

There's no food left.

What are we going to do?

- Shut up, will you?

We're all hungry.

- Do you want to know the truth?

We're all going to die, it's as simple as that.

Because we don't have any food to eat,

we grow weaker every day.

It's a medical fact.

Lack of protein leads to malnutrition.

We could last one month.

If we can just hold out,

when the weather changes...

The snow will melt.

And maybe we'll be saved at that time.

We just have to get through that month.

Oh God, there's only one way we can do it.

We each must decide if we live or die,

and I don't want to die.

I want to go on living.

Not counting relatives.

There are seven bodies in the snow.

They can provide us with enough protein

to survive for a month,

or maybe longer.

(dramatic orchestral music)

- Maybe God took them away so that we could live.

- Their souls are gone, they're just bodies.

- Oh no, stop it!

This is insane!

- No, senora, you're wrong.

It's not insane.

You can't kill what's already dead.

And you know, it's even in the Bible.

Thou shall eat the fruit of thine own body.

The flesh of your sons and of your daughters,

in time of siege, and in time of anguish.

- We know them, how can we touch them?

- Because we'll only touch them to live.

Remember, they were our friends.

They would want us to do this.

I think they would tell us to go ahead,

that way they could live through us.

I want to see my friends, my family.

I don't want to die on this awful mountain.

I want to leave here alive,

and I'll do whatever I have to do.

- I don't know if I can do it.

I really don't.

But I can try.

- Do you realize that you're all thinking about cannibalism?

That's the word for it.

Think of what the judgment of society will be.

You must stop all this rationalizing and--

- Sivala, that's not important.

Living is.

My judgment is what counts,

not some idiotic society.

- That's enough.

We don't really have a choice.

We must do what we must do.

We can argue forever,

but finally we'll decide to go on living.

That's only natural, it's pure human instinct,

and no matter how difficult,

it's the only right thing to do.

I think we have to thank God for giving us this chance,

and our friends, for their final sacrifice.


(soft orchestral music)

I left it to dry on the fuselage.

(dramatic orchestral music)


- Amen.


- Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

on Earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread...

- [Raoul Voiceover] I don't know if you'll understand

what I'm about to tell you.

We've been here 21 days.

We finished all the food,

we had nothing left.

We would have died.

We couldn't let that happen.

Our will to live is too strong.

We have begun to eat the flesh of our dead friends.

I know that sounds awful, but it means we can live.

And no matter how hard it is to do,

we choose to live.

Already we grow stronger.

Will you be able to understand, forgive us?

Will you?

(dramatic orchestral music)

- No.

- Come on, force yourself.

- I can't.

- Do you want to see our children again?

You must eat!


- Here, Nelson.

- I can't do it.

- Listen, you have to.

- Get away from me!

- Look, you have to, unless you want to die.

Now here, take it.

Wash it down with water.


- Drink the water, swallow it!

- No, I can't!

I'd rather die!

Please, just leave me alone.


I'd rather die.

- Last night I really slept well

for the first time since my operation.

You know, the stitches are finally beginning to heal up.

- You sound like an old lady.

All you talk about is that operation.

- Wait, Doctor.

Just wait a minute.

You think that operation has turned you

into a real professional surgeon

just because you know how to crochet?

- Hey Nelson, you smiled.

You finally look human.

- I'm smiling because I found my camera,

and tomorrow's my birthday.

Now I'll have some pictures.

- You don't eat, that might be your last.

- Well listen, if you really insist on having a birthday,

then we can bake a cake.

- How old are you gonna be?

- Oh, 25.

- You're a baby.

- If we get out of here alive,

I'll send you some cheese

for your birthday from my ranch.

It's the best cheese in the world.

- Can you send it right now

so we can all have some for breakfast?

- Look at us.

Do you know we're laughing at last?

Do you know for a whole month no one has smiled at all?

It means we're getting stronger.

- Jose, why don't you sit by your wife.

I'd like to stretch a little.



(dramatic orchestral music)

- Please, I ask a favor of all of you.

As we stand before the body of my wife,

promise you won't...

Promise you won't touch her.




- Papa...

Papa, I'm glad you're here, Papa.

See if I can go home with you.

Please don't abandon me, Papa.


- I don't see how he can go on like this.

It has to come off.

- You can't operate on it.

It's much too difficult.

- Ramon...


- Carmelo, is that you?

- Yes, Ramon.

You just stay calm.

I'm right here.

- Carmelo...

Tell my father not to leave my body way up here.

Tell him to take me away.

(dramatic orchestral music)

- I couldn't revive him.

It seems hopeless.

We just won't survive.

- No!

- Yes, we're losing the will to continue living.

We must get away from here.

- Then let's try it.

If we walk far enough,

we should be able to somehow find some help.

- That sounds better than just staying here.

We've nothing to lose.

- We should walk west and see if we can find anything.

- Three of us should go.

You, Armando, and me.

- Okay, let's go. - Let's try it.

- What about me?

- Someone has to take charge here.

- Voiello's getting worse.

If you want to save him,

we'll have to leave here as soon as possible.

We just cannot continue postponing it.

- Then we'll go tomorrow.

We pack food for about seven days.

These are my nephew's shoes.

I'll take one with me for good luck.

And you keep the other until I get back.

(tense orchestral music)

- They have to make it.

They have to.

- It's really rough ahead.

One of us is hurt, unable to continue.

He's going to have to be left behind.

We agree?

- Yes.

- We agree.

- [Narrator] For three arduous days,

they climbed steadily higher.

At long last, they had crossed the final range,

and the summit was in view.

(intense orchestral music)

- The mountains go on forever,

and soon we'll be completely out of food.

- You mean we'll have to return?

- Return?

We must go on.

- There's one thing we can do right away,

to help preserve all of our energy.

- What is it?

- One of us must go back

and leave all of his food with the other two.

It's downhill back to the plane, it should only take a day.

You go on back, Venegas.

We're much stronger than you are now,

and this might save your life,

and we'll go on with the expedition.

Tell the rest somehow we'll make it.

(energetic orchestral music)

A valley.

Way in the distance.

- If there's a valley, it might lead to a river.

And then, if there is a river,

perhaps we'll find a way through.

Perhaps we'll find a shepherd, or a hunter.

(intense orchestral music)

(engine humming)


- There it is! - They made it!

- Please!

(dramatic orchestral music)

- I'm too tired.

I can't go on.

- Raoul, get up!

You can't give up now!

- I can't.

You go.

- Get up.

I'm not leaving you.

Lean on me.

- Last night, I dreamt that Midrasa and Cardenas

walked off into the snow, and then they just disappear.

And they were never heard from again.

The dream was cold and desolate and awful.

I want so much to have hope, but I can't.

- Carmelo, I don't want to hear such things.

We must keep hope.

- It's too late for hope.

- Hey! - Hey!

- Senor, senor! - Over here!

- Over here!


Please wait!

Please help! - Help!

(exciting orchestral music)

(bright orchestral music)

(siren wailing)

- I will not leave you.

I won't leave you on that mountain.

- [Narrator] 45 people had begun the flight.

16 survived.

They had done the impossible.

The human spirit had prevailed.

(lively orchestral music)

The Description of Survive!