Andes Man Missing in Mountains Survived Heavy Snow for 4 Months

Monday, 09 Sep 2013 02:33 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A man who went missing in the Andes mountain range in May has been found alive.

Raul Fernando Gomez Circunegui of Uruguay was attempting to cross the Andes between Chile to Argentina four months ago when his motorbike broke down, the BBC reported.

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Gomez reportedly attempted to walk the rest of the way, but was hindered by two heavy snowstorms that forced him to seek shelter, The Associated Press reported.

Gomez, 58, was recovered by Argentine officials living in a shelter atop one of the mountains at an altitude of more than 9,300 feet. He reportedly had barely enough strength to open the door and alert officials of his location. He was quickly removed from the shelter via helicopter.

Gomez's will to live is extraordinary, as he survived the ordeal by living off leftover supplies, such as raisins and sugar, which he found in the shelter, and whatever else he could trap, including a rat, the AP noted.

Following his rescue, the emaciated and dehydrated man was taken to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

"He's a patient with high blood pressure, a history of smoking, and signs of undernourishment," a doctor who examined him told the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais, the AP reported. "But he's going to be fine and in a few days we're going to discharge him."

Gomez lost 44 pounds during the ordeal, local media reported.

"The truth is that this is a miracle. We still can't believe it," San Juan Governor Jose Luis Gioja told the local Diario de Cuyo newspaper. "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.'"

This isn't the first time someone has survived the grueling conditions the Andes mountain range.

In 1972, a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team to Chile crashed in the Andes. Some of the survivors sustained themselves by eating dead bodies, notes Reuters.

The longest continental mountain range in the world, the Andes stretches some 4,300 miles long and reaches an elevation of 22,841 feet.

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