Inside the mind of survivor: Dr Canessa reminisces on dark choice made after 1972 Andes plane crash

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Dr Roberto Canessa.

WASHINGTON, Dec 3, (Agencies): A survivor of the 1972 Andes Mountain plane crash, Dr Roberto Canessa, shared how the upcoming Netflix film “Society of the Snow” transported him back to the harrowing experience. In a recent interview, Canessa, who was a 19-year-old medical student at the time of the crash, expressed how the film immersed him in the memories of being inside the fuselage.

The crash occurred as Canessa and his Uruguayan rugby teammates were en route to a match, resulting in only 16 survivors out of 45 passengers. Stranded in the snow without food, the survivors faced a dire decision—to eat the bodies of those who had perished in order to survive, a dark chapter detailed in Canessa’s 2016 book, “I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives.”

Reflecting on the difficult choice to consume the deceased, Canessa stated that he thought, “If I would die, I would be proud that my body would be used for someone else.” The survivors endured for 72 days before being rescued.

Canessa emphasized the profound impact of the ordeal, sharing that it’s not just about how one survives but why. He recounted a pivotal moment with his mother, where he had to reassure her of his survival, citing her devastation over a friend’s death. This became a driving force for him to persevere.

The 1993 film “Alive,” starring Ethan Hawke, previously dramatized the Andes crash, while “Society of the Snow” takes a fresh approach by filming on the actual crash site, subjecting the cast and crew to similar conditions as the survivors.

Today, Dr Canessa is a pediatric cardiologist and actively participates in annual reunions with fellow survivors and their families. Drawing lessons from the experience, he encourages gratitude for life, stating, “You shouldn’t wait for your plane to fall to enjoy and be grateful for life.” “Society of the Snow” is set to premiere in theaters next month, followed by streaming on Netflix starting Jan 4.

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