Cannibal plane crash survivor still recalls ‘repugnant’ human flesh 50 years on

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    Survivors of a terrifying plane crash say they don't regret resorting to cannibalism to stay alive.

    Some sixteen amateur rugby players and supporters escaped with their lives after the terrifying fireball smash in 1972 when their flight crashed into snow-covered Andes.

    While enduring freezing conditions with no food or ways to contact rescuers, several of the passengers were able to survive by feasting on the flesh of their dead teammates, with one recalling that eating human flesh was "repugnant" 50 years on.

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    The survivors were rescued after two months when two of them trekked across the treacherous mountain range with no mountaineering gear.

    Carlos Paez spoke to the Sunday Times about the months they spent in the freezing mountains.

    He said: "I've done six million miles on American Airlines," he said, noting his lack of fear of flying.

    "I'm condemned to tell this story forever more, just like the Beatles always having to sing Yesterday."

    Forty-five people boarded the doomed plane on October 13, 1972, including Montevideo's Old Christians Club's rugby team and its supporters.

    The survivors made the horrific choice to eat dead passengers after Roberto Canessa, a medical student, suggested they use the bodies of the deceased to sustain them.

    He said: "Of course, the idea of eating human flesh was terrible, repugnant.

    "It was hard to put in your mouth. But we got used to it."

    He said: "In a sense, our friends were some of the first organ donors in the world — they helped to nourish us and kept us alive."

    There no other option for the young survivors, who said human meat "doesn't taste of anything, really."

    A glass was used to cut flesh and solace was taken that other people would have done the same if they had survived.

    Other survivors made a pact that those who lived could eat who had died due to the exposure.

    He said: "We promised each other that if one of us died, the others were obliged to eat their bodies."

    The survivors had lost all hope of being rescued. After two months Canessa and Fernando Parrado headed off to seek help.

    They filled their rugby socks with human flesh and climbed about three miles down the mountain during a ten-day journey.

    A multi-day helicopter came and rescued the remainder of the survivors.

    "They took us to hospital in Santiago," Sabella told the Times.

    "I remember the joy of that first hot bath."

    The incident on Uruguayan Flight 571 was recorded in the best-selling book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, by Piers Paul Read, which was made into a movie starring Ethan Hawke in 1993.

    They gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their horrific ordeal that has been dubbed Miracle in the Andes.

    Many of the survivors have tried to make the most out of their miraculous rescue despite being haunted by the incident.

    Paez has made a career of travelling the world giving talks on the ordeal.

    He said: "I always ask the audience, 'Would any of you not have done the same thing?' Nobody has ever put up their hand."

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