The day of the miracle in the Andes – level 3


On October 13, 1972, a team of Uruguayan university rugby players, their friends, and family members fly for a friendly match to Chile. There is thick fog and the pilots misjudge their position and start descending too soon.

At one moment, a mountain appears in front of the plane. The pilots try to avoid it, but it’s too late. The tail of the plane hits rocks and it’s torn off. The rest of the plane slides down the mountain until it’s stopped by a pile of snow.

25 people out of 45 survive the fall. After the initial shock, some of those who weren’t injured begin to help the injured ones. Others try to insulate the plane against the cold. Everyone hopes to see rescue planes soon.

The days pass and help is still not coming. After 10 days, they manage to make the radio work and they learn that the rescue operation was canceled. None of the rescuers believed that anyone could survive a crash in the middle of high mountains where temperature goes down to minus 30 degrees Celsius at night.

Now, the survivors know that nobody is looking for them and they have to get out of the place by themselves. Three of them set out on the first rescue expedition. The next day, they return to the plane with frostbitten feet.

Soon, they have no food to eat. There are no plants or animals high in the mountains but only ice and rock. After a few days of extreme starvation, some survivors begin to cut pieces of meat off of the corpses. The decision to do so is extremely hard for them, but they have to do it if they want to survive.

Two months after the plane crashes, three of the men decide to cross the Andes Mountains again. After a 10-day walk in extremely hard conditions, they see a fire and a man next to it. It’s December 23, 1972, and 16 remaining survivors are rescued.

Difficult words: misjudge (make a wrong calculation), descend (to go down), slide (to move over a surface which is smooth), insulate (to keep from cold), learn (to get information), set out (to start a journey), frostbitten (when your body parts are dark because of extreme cold), corpse (the dead body of a person).

What were some of the physical and mental challenges that the survivors of the plane crash faced while trying to rescue themselves?


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