Uruguayan found in Andes after going missing four months ago
A Uruguayan who disappeared four months ago in the remote Andes has been found alive after spending a punishing winter eating rats and raisins.
In May, Raul Fernando Gomez Circunegui, 58, set out to cross the mountains from Chile to Argentina on foot because his motorcycle broke down. He then lost his way during a snowstorm.
Argentine officials from the northwestern province of San Juan stumbled upon Gomez on Sunday in a shelter 2,840 metres above sea level when they travelled there to record snow levels.
A feeble Gomez hobbled over and opened the shelter's door, alerting the crew to his presence.
"The truth is that this is a miracle. We still can't believe it," San Juan Governor Jose Luis Gioja said. "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'."
Sugar, raisins, rats and the shelter's leftover supplies kept Gomez alive through the winter. He lost 20 kilograms during the ordeal and is dehydrated.
Photos of an emaciated, bearded Gomez resting on a bed were splashed on the websites of Argentine newspapers.
A doctor who examined Gomez was surprised by his resilience. "He's a patient with high blood pressure, a history of smoking and signs of undernourishment," he said. But "he's going to be fine and in a few days we're going to discharge him".
Gomez's ordeal echoes the story from 1972 when a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team to Chile crashed in the Andes.
The flight had 45 people on board, more than a quarter of whom were killed in the crash, with the others quickly succumbing to the cold and their injuries.
Eight died in an avalanche before 16 survivors were rescued more than two months after the crash. Some of the survivors sustained themselves by eating the bodies of the deceased.