A Uruguayan man who went missing four months ago in the Andes mountains of South America has been found alive. Raul Fernando Gomez Circunegui, 58, survived in the unforgiving conditions by eating rats and raisins.
Argentinian officials found Circunegui in a shelter located at 2,840 metres (9,318 feet) above sea level while recording snow fall levels in the province of San Juan. Mr. Circunegui attempted to cross from Chile to Argentina on foot after his motorcycle broke down.
San Juan Governor Jose Luis Gioja told the local Diario de Cuyo newspaper about the missing man: “The truth is that this is a miracle. We still can’t believe it. We let him talk to his wife, his mother and his daughter…. I asked him: ‘Are you a believer?’ He told me, ‘no, but now I am.’”
Gomez Circunegui said he survived on sugar, rats, raisins, and a few supplies left in the shelter where he stayed during the long winter months in the Andes mountains. At the time of his rescue, Circunegui was suffering from dehydration and he had lost about 45 pounds.
According to the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais, the doctors who examined Gomez Cicunegui were surprised by the man’s resilience. One doctor said, “He’s a patient with high blood pressure, a history of smoking and signs of undernourishment.” But “he’s going to be fine and in a few days we’re going to discharge him.”
Circunegui’s ordeal is reminiscent of the 1972 crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571. In that terrible disaster, 45 passengers, including a Uruguayan rugby team, their friends and family, were flying over the Andes when their plane struck a mountain at an altitude of over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft). As depicted in the 1983 film, Alive, the survivors were stranded without food in harsh conditions and they were forced to consume the remains of dead passengers. Only 16 men were still alive when they were finally rescued, more than two months after the crash.