International Rugby
'Alive' survivors stage memorial game
ESPN Staff
October 15, 2012
Members of the Uruguayan rugby team that survived a plane crash in Andes mountains in 1972 unveil a plaque, Santiago, Chile, October 13, 2012
Survivors of the 1972 Andes plane crash unveil a plaque to mark the 40th anniversary of the tragedy © PA Photos
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Survivors of the 1972 Andes plane crash that claimed the lives of many members of a Uruguayan rugby club have staged a match to mark the 40th anniversary of the tragedy.

Sixteen of the 45 passengers on the plane survived the crash and sub-zero temperatures for 72 days before being rescued and famously stayed alive by eating the remains of their fellow passengers. The amazing story was later the subject of a best-selling book and Hollywood move entitled Alive.

To mark the occasion, 12 survivors and former players from Stella Maris College's "Old Christians" club in Montevideo travelled to Santiago, Chile to take on the Old Grangonian Club, the team they were supposed to play forty years ago.

Now in their 60s, the players also held a minute's silence and unveiled a plaque with the photos of those who died in the crash on October 13, 1972. The memorial game follows a similar fixture to mark the 30th anniversary of the crash.

"The conditions were more horrifying than you can ever imagine. To live at 4,000 meters without any food," survivor Eduardo Strauch told the Associated Press. "The only reason why we're here alive today is because we had the goal of returning home ... (Our loved ones) gave us life. They made the sacrifice for others."

Survivors of the Andes plane crash Daniel Fernandez and Eduardo Strauch hold a commemorative trophy during a rugby game to mark the 40th anniversary of the incident, Santiago, Chile, October 13, 2012
Survivors of the Andes plane crash Daniel Fernandez and Eduardo Strauch © PA Photos

Another survivor, Roberto Canessa, recalled the desperate measures his team-mates were forced to take. "I think the greatest sadness I felt in my life was when I had to eat a dead body," he said. "I would ask myself: Is it worth doing this? And it was because it was in order to live and preserve life, which is exactly what I would have liked for myself if it had been my body that lay on the floor."

Crash survivor Daniel Fernandez added: "If somebody had told me that 'You're going to be put on a mountain, at an altitude of 4,000m (13,000ft), at 20C below zero, wearing short sleeves,' I would have said 'I'd survive 10 minutes'. But I survived 72 days."

Canessa and his former team-mate Fernando Parrado trekked for 10 days from the site of the crash in bid to find help after hearing on the plane's radio that a search had been called off. They were eventually rewarded for their endeavour when they met a shepherd, Sergio Catalan, who then issued a call for help.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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