‘Society of the Snow’ is based on a true story. Here’s what really happened.

‘Society of the Snow’ is based on a true story. Here’s what really happened.

Published January 11, 2src24

On October 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed into the Andes with 45 souls on board. After 72 days, only 16 survived.

This incident has inspired several films, books, and television series, ranging from 1993’s Alive to Showtime’s Yellowjackets. Most recently, Netflix’s Society of the Snow recounts the harrowing months on the mountaintop.

The real story of Flight 571 is one of both death and life, disaster and endurance, when a group of people thrown into extreme conditions did what they needed to do in order to survive—including the unthinkable.

Flight 571 crashes in the Andes

Flight 571 was a chartered flight on that October day. It was carrying members of the Old Christians Club rugby team, along with some friends and family. They were traveling from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile, for a game. Only one passenger had no relation to the team.

As the plane neared its destination, the co-pilot—Lieutenant-Colonel Dante Lagurara, who was flying the plane—asked the Santiago airport for permission to land. The plane began its descent.

There was one problem: Lagurara and pilot Colonel Julio César Ferradas had misidentified the plane’s position. So when the plane descended from the clouds, it didn’t approach the airport’s landing strip—it crashed into a valley high in the mountains.

(This man survived the crash. Read Nat Geo’s interview with him.)

Thirty-three survivors managed to pull themselves, and each other, from the wreckage. Then they faced an even greater challenge: staying alive in the frozen Andes, where temperatures plummeted below zero and blizzards dumped several feet of snow. The dry air was also dizzyingly thin at the high altitude.

Without medical supplies, heat, or food, the survivors used the wrecked plane as a shelter and repurposed its parts, turning luggage into walls and seat covers into blankets.

And, soon enough, they would turn corpses into food.

Whatever it takes to survive

Though the survivors found a limited supply of food in the plane—like candy, wine, and jam—it did not last long.


…. to be continued
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