Due to the desperate measures the survivors had to take in order to survive, the 1972 plane crash in the Andes mountain range produced one of the most well-known survivor stories in history. They had to eat the frozen flesh of their dead friends in order to survive; otherwise, they would starve to death.
On October 13, 1972, a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes between Chile and Argentina. 12 people were instantly killed in the collision. After a few hours, five more people would pass away, and one more would die a week later. Seventeen days after the crash, an avalanche claimed the lives of eight more people.
Coche, also known as Jose Luis Inciarte, was one of the survivors. He and the others who stayed had to endure harsh circumstances like the high altitude, bitter cold, and a severe lack of food. Coche and his companions were forced to eat their dead friends' bodies during the 72 days that passed before their eventual rescue.
Coche, who is now old, discussed their terrifying experience on the British daytime program The Morning. He claimed that forcing himself to eat his friends' flesh required "a great effort of energy and mind."
However, he continued, the tale "doesn't live with him."
“There was no other option if you wanted to stay alive,” he said.
“We made a meeting between all and we argued whether to do it or not to do it, not to do it seemed to mean to die, everybody decided to eat.”
“When you went to take a piece of flesh, the body of your friend, their frozen body, the hand doesn’t obey and you have to make a great effort of energy and mind to make your arm obey, and then it obeys, not immediately.”
“It was the same with opening mouth to put it inside the mouth and swallow.”
‘I had to eat my friends to survive’— This Morning (@thismorning) April 5, 2021
Jose Luis 'Coche' Inciarte endured 72 days in the Andes after a plane crash left him desperately trying to stay alive in a remote location. ‘Coche’ tells us his story, and why he was forced to do the unthinkable in order to stay alive. pic.twitter.com/Ut97uUlPrB
The survivors agreed to give up their flesh if they perished so that the others would live.
Nearly three months after the crash, those who were still alive were rescued when two of the survivors hiked for ten days in search of assistance and eventually came across herdsman Sergio Catalán, who informed the authorities.
When asked if he thought he would make it out of the mountains alive, Coche said: “Most days I thought I was going to go out from there… I had a great confidence with them to reach some place and they did it.”
“But other days, in those terrible days that we were waiting for them, I [thought] that they were not going to reach any place, so I put my date of dying on December 24.”
Memories of the Andes, a book by Coche, is based on their encounter. The 1993 film "Alive" told the story of their ordeal. According to Coche, some details in the movie were made up, while others were true to their story.
The forced cannibalism of the survivors made headlines all over the world. When they explained the pact that the survivors made to the families of those who were eaten, the initial outcry subsided and they no longer faced criticism.