A Malaysian family write messages and prayers on a wall.

It has been in the news for quite some time now, and it has every right to be. Possibly the biggest air disaster or possibly the greatest mystery that everyone seems to be busy solving, the Malaysia airline jet vanished from radar and communication with 239 people on board from the Vietnamese coast.

Everyone at this moment seems to be very concerned about the destiny of the plane and its passengers. The family members can do nothing but pray. Here we take a look at a similar kind of incident that happened about 42 years ago in South America in the Andes.  An incident that famously came to be known as ‘miracle in the Andes.’ (Read: Chinese aircraft joins search )

Uruguay air force flight 571 carrying 45 passengers, including crew crashed in the Andes on 13th October 1972. More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage. The last 16 survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash. (Read: Mohan Kumaramangalam’s grandson confirmed on missing plane)

With little food and no source of heat the survivors were facing harsh condition at an altitude of 3600 meters in one of the most dangerous places in the world. The situation became heart breaking when they heard over the radio that the search operation for them has been called off after a month. Everyone lost hope and feared for the worst. It was at this moment when Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa decided that this not how they are going to die, not at least without trying their best. What followed was a 10 day trek across the Andes, over various mountains and cliffs which ultimately ended when they found Chilean arriero Sergio Catalan, who gave them food and alerted the authorities about their survival.

The survivors spent 72 days in that godforsaken place; even after they knew that they have been considered dead by the rest of the world. This was one of the most sensational stories of pure human grit and determination. The 16 survivors had lots of stories to tell, some that they would be proud of, some that they would be disgusted about (they had to eat the meat of their fellow passengers, who had died earlier), but ultimately it was a huge gift to the families of those survived.

We know that times are tough for the ones close to the passengers in the plane. But as we have seen in the incident above as well as in numerous other stories, all is not lost and that they should never lose hope, there is always that ray of light that shows you the way even in darkest of times. All we could do is pray and hope for the best, may god be with the passengers and this all turns out to be another inspirational story of human survival.