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The Accident’s History – Day by Day
October 1972
November 1972
December 1972
Arriba OCTOBER 1972
Fairchild F-227Thursday 12: The Fairchild F-227 left Carrasco airport and landed in Mendoza. See Passengers List

Friday 13: Take-off from Mendoza and crash in the Andes. In the impact, 12 people died and during the first night, 3 more people passed away.

Saturday 14: It was realized that Vizintín was losing blood from one of his arms and the bleeding was stopped. The co-pilot Dante Lagurara died and at mid-day, the woman named Mariani also passed away.

Sunday 15: Adolfo Strauch invented a contraption that converted snow to water. Fernando Parrado regained consciousness and took care of his sister, Susana, who was in a critical state. A little after mid-day, they watched three airplanes pass, although the planes were in the distance. A little later, one passed very close to the wreckage of the Fairchild and moved its wings, making the survivors believe that they had been seen. The belief was that rescue was immanent but nothing else happened that day. As the afternoon passed, the captain of the team, Marcelo Perez, discovered that someone had eaten part of the food which had been rationed.

Roberto Canessa Monday 16:
Canessa constructed hammocks for Rafael Echevarren and Arturo Nogueira who were badly injured. Fito Strauch discovered that by attaching the seat cushions to their feet, they could walk on the snow without sinking.

Tuesday 17: Carlos Páez, Turcatti, Canessa and Fito Strauch walked up the mountain from the accident site, trying to see what was on the other side of the ridge as well as searching for the tail. Without finding anything, they returned, exhausted, to the fuselage.

Saturday 21: Susana Parrado died in the arms of her brother, Nando.

Sunday 22: A meeting was held in the interior of the airplane and, because the meager food supplies had run out and there were neither vegetables nor anything else to eat, they decided to nourish themselves with the corpses of their companions. Canessa took the initiative although some others refused to eat.

Monday 23: Using a radio found inside the Fairchild, the survivors learned that the rescue mission had ceased because of poor results. Turcatti, Maspons and Zerbino climbed the mountain following the track left in the snow by the airplane. They decided to stay the night on the mountain and returned the following day.

Tuesday 24: Continuing their ascent, they found pieces of the wing, the corpse of one of their friends, three members of the “Old Christians” and two members of the crew. Finally, they returned to the fuselage without having found the tail section.

Sunday 29: In the late afternoon as the survivors were getting ready to spend another night in the fuselage of the airplane, an avalanche descended down the mountain and with total fury, entered the Fairchild, and buried all those who were lying down. Those who were not trapped tried to rescue the others who were covered by the snow. Eight people died, leaving 19 survivors.

Daniel Maspons Juan Carlos Menéndez Liliana Methol Gustavo Nicolich
Daniel Maspons Juan Carlos Menéndez Liliana Methol Gustavo Nicolich
       
Marcelo Pérez Enrique Platero Carlos Roque Diego Storm
Marcelo Pérez Enrique Platero Carlos Roque Diego Storm

Monday 30: With a storm raging and a layer of snow accumulating on the outside of the fuselage, the survivors were trapped and celebrated Numa Turcatti’s birthday inside the cramped quarters of the airplane.

Tuesday 31: Carlos Páez’s birthday was celebrated in the same way as Numa Turcatti.
Arriba NOVEMBER 1972
Wednesday 1: The sky cleared and the weather improved. With tools made from found materials, the survivors shoveled the snow from the interior of the fuselage and removed the corpses. Also, it was Pancho Delgado’s birthday. François and Inciarte climbed 100 meters up the mountain and returned. A few days later, Turcatti and Algorta climbed to the wing of the plane.

Sunday 5: To find out who would accompany Canessa and Parrado on the final expedition, Páez, Harley and Vizintín headed down the mountain on a 2 day expedition, testing physical and mental limits. They found the rear door of the airplane, two aluminum receptacles and a third which contained coffee residue. The climb back up to the fuselage was almost impossible and the trio arrived after sunset. Finally, despite the suffering endured by Harley and Páez during the expedition, only Vizintín was chosen to accompany Parrado and Canessa.

Arturo Nogueira Wednesday 15: Due to the inflammation of the wounds on his legs, Arturo Nogueira passed away. The expeditionaries intended to leave the base camp and to head west but after three hours, worsening weather conditions made them turn back.

Friday 17: Parrado, Canessa and Vizintín left the group and headed west, hoping to reach Chile. Along their path, they found the tail of the airplane and in the surrounding area, piles of suitcases, inside of which were food, clothing, and cartons of cigarettes. They found batteries inside the tail and also, better sleeping conditions than the fuselage. They spent the night.

Saturday 18: The three expeditionaries continued their hike to the northwest and decided to spend a night out on the mountain. On this day, in the fuselage, Rafael Echevarren died.

Cola del Avión Sunday 19: They returned to the tail of the plane and because the batteries were so heavy, they decided that the batteries could not be carried to the radio. The radio would be brought to the tail. When they arrived at the base camp, they met their companions and showed them all that they had found in the suitcases.

Thursday 23: It was Bobby François’ birthday and the others gave him a packet of cigarettes. Canessa and Parrado removed the radio panel from the airplane.

Friday 24:
Vizintín, Canessa, Parrado and Harley made the 1 ½ hour trek to the tail with the radio. Harley was responsible to make the radio work. Upon their arrival, they found more suitcases that had appeared when the show had melted.

Saturday 25: They worked to connect the radio to the batteries and failed in their attempts.

Sunday 26:
Parrado and Vizintín returned to the plane because the food items that they had brought with them had run out already. Harley and Canessa stayed at the tail, trying to make the radio work.

Tuesday 28: Parrado and Vizintín brought more provisions to the tail. The survivors learned by transistor radio that the search for them had been renewed by the C-47 of the Uruguayan Air Force.

Wednesday 29: The four, (Harley, Canessa, Vizintín and Parrado) returned to the airplane without being able to make the radio function.
Arriba DECEMBER 1972
Numa TurcattiSaturday 9: Parrado’s birthday and the others gave him a cigar that had recently been found in the tail.

Monday 11:
A large cross was drawn in the snow with the suitcases in case an airplane should pass above. Numa Turcatti, close friend to Pancho Delgado died.

Tuesday 12: Canessa, Parrado and Vizintín set off on the final expedition to find the valleys of Chile. That night, using a sleeping bag that had been made by their companions, they slept beside a huge rock.

Wednesday 13:
Canessa saw a trail along the valley that made him think that it was a road. He said nothing and the group continued climbing. By afternoon, they reached a refuge in which to sleep that was similar to their ‘bed’ the night before. Canessa mentioned the road and suggested retracing their steps but Parrado disagreed and an argument ensued. They slept without reaching a decision.

As food stores were running low at the airplane, Zerbino and Fito went searching for cadavers and although they found one, they were too tired to bring it back to the fuselage.

Thursday 14: While Vizintín and Parrado continued their ascent, Canessa stayed where they had slept, gazing at what appeared to him to be the road. Finally, Parrado reached the summit of the mountain and when he looked over the edge, he saw an interminable mountain range. They decided that Vizintín must leave his ration of food and return to the Fairchild so that Canessa and Parrado could survive longer and more likely, reach civilization. They slept in a similar fashion as they had the two nights previous.
At the base camp, Páez and Algorta climbed through the valley looking for more dead bodies. When they found one, they covered it with snow to prevent it rotting in the sun.

Friday 15: In the morning, the thirteen men who had stayed at the airplane saw something sliding down the mountain. At first, they thought it was a rock but then they realized it was Vizintín who was using one of the seats of the airplane as a toboggan. Upon arrival, he explained that Canessa and Parrado were continuing on to Chile and that he had left his food ration with them.
While Fito, Zerbino and Algorta were out retrieving the body that had been found the previous day, the others heard on the radio that the cross that they had built of suitcases had been sighted by a Uruguayan C-47.

Saturday 16: Canessa and Parrado spent three hours climbing to the peak where Parrado had been and from there, searched for the best route down. In the afternoon, after descending a considerable distance, they slept.

Sunday 17: With great dismay, the survivors at the airplane learned that the cross found by the C-47 was the one that the Argentinean meteorologists had built.
By mid-day, Parrado and Canessa had reached the base of the mountain and began following the valley: the route that they had agreed upon from the peak of the mountain. At one place where they rested, they saw a creek and nearby, moss and reeds. This was the first sign of vegetation that they had seen since the accident. Despite being exhausted, Canessa picked some herbs and ate them.

Monday 18: Continuing their hike down the valley, Parrado became impatient to see what was ahead. He speeded up and left Canessa behind. Finally, the snow came to an end and they saw an extraordinary sight. There was no snow and vegetation flourished. A small river flowed to the west and they could see animals. They rested and then walked on toward the river. A little later, Canessa noticed that he had lost his sunglasses and without them, he could go blind from the glare of the snow. They retraced their steps to find the glasses and then they continued on their way, crossing the rushing river. That night, they slept soundly for the first time since leaving the plane.

Tuesday 19: In the morning, the expeditionaries spotted a herd of cows and this encouraged them to keep walking. They found the first sign of civilization: an empty soup can and then, a horse shoe. Later, when they saw more cattle and felled trees, they were assured that civilization was close by. Certain that they would be saved, they slept well.

Wednesday 20: When they woke, they purged their rucksacks of unnecessary items like the sleeping bag and walked on, disconcerted that they saw no more signs of civilization. Canessa felt sick so Parrado carried all their belongings. Finally, they came to a stone corral and bedded down close by. Before sleeping, Parrado noted that their intended path was blocked by a second river that joined the one they were following. Canessa, still weak with stomach cramps, was picking up firewood when he spotted a man on horseback on the other side of the river. His shouts alerted Parrado but when Parrado ran to the river, neither of the men could see anyone. A little later, they heard someone yell and saw three men on the other side of the river. Canessa and Parrado gestured and shouted desperately for help. One of the riders reined in his horse and yelled something to them. The noise of the river drowned out his voice and they could only decipher the word, “tomorrow.” “Tomorrow” was quite enough coming from someone from the outside world and they fell asleep happy.

Thursday 21: Back at the airplane, Carlos Páez and Daniel Fernández had the premonition that the expeditionaries had succeeded in finding help.
That morning, Parrado and Canessa saw the three men again on the other side. Parrado called to them and one came to the bank of the river. Writing a note on a piece of paper, the man wrapped it around a stone and threw it across the river. Parrado picked it up and read, “I have sent a man who will arrive there soon.” Parrado responded by writing the following:
Carta “I come from a plane that crashed in the mountains. I am Uruguayan. We have been walking for ten days. I have a wounded friend up there. In the plane there are still fourteen injured people. We have to get out of here quickly and we don’t know how. We don’t have any food. We are weak. When are you going to come to fetch us? Please. We cannot walk. Where are we? SOS.”
When he finished, he used the same method to hurl the message to the man who read it and showed his understanding by tossing some bread to the expeditionaries.
Some hours later, a man arrived on horseback. Canessa and Parrado briefly explained their story. He gave them bread and took them to a hut where they ate ravenously. They learn that the man, who found them, Sergio Catalán, had taken their letter to the customs officials. Later, a group of customs officers arrived with Sergio who told them that three helicopters have been sent for from Santiago.

The other survivors heard the news by radio that the two expeditionaries had been found and brought to safety.

Friday 22:
With great dismay, Parrado and Canessa woke to a foggy morning and recognized that the helicopters would not have sufficient visibility to fly. They ate breakfast and then met with the growing crowd of journalists from around the globe. Rescate They eagerly answered questions but tried to avoid talking about how they sustained themselves. Later, the peace of their small village, Los Maitenes, was broken by the arrival of helicopters and, guided by Parrado, they embarked on the treacherous flight, over a high mountain summit to the valley where the Fairchild remains lay. The 14 survivors, crazy with joy, met the helicopters and as the first 6 people left, they gave thanks to the mountains for the rescue. Weather conditions had deteriorated too much to allow a second flight that day so the other eight survivors remained for one more night with a medical team and mountaineers as support.
When the group arrived at Los Maitenes, it was an ecstasy of joy. Hugging, laughing and rolling in the grass, they celebrated their salvation. A few hours later, they were taken to the St. John of God Hospital in San Fernando.

Saturday 23: At 10AM, the helicopters came back for the 8 survivors that had stayed in the plane and the scene of joy was repeated again at Los Maitenes. Different from the first group, they were first taken to Colchagua and then were transported to the National Health Service Hospital in Santiago. Six of the survivors were discharged immediately and went to the Sheraton Hotel. Harley and Methol were detained at the hospital where Inciarte and Mangino were already patients and the four shared the same room. At seven that evening, all of the survivors except Harley, Methol, Inciarte and Mangino met in the Sheraton de San Cristobal.

Sunday 24: The four others were discharged from the hospital and joined the others at the Sheraton. Roberto François and Daniel Fernández returned to Montevideo and the others celebrated Christmas Eve together.

Navidad en el Sheraton

Tuesday 26: The group dispersed: Parrado moved to a house in Viña del Mar; Algorta moved to a house outside of Santiago. The Santiago newspaper: “El mercurio” published a full front page article focusing on their cannibalism and in response, the survivors planned to offer a press conference upon return to Montevideo.

Thursday 28: The survivors arrived in Montevideo and gave a press conference in which they explained the whole 72 day ordeal. Roy Harley, still very weak, remained in Chile and returned home a few days later.

Llegada a Montevideo      Conferencia de Prensa

Material provided by Alexis J Scarantino
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