SANTIAGO — A Uruguayan man who went missing in May while trying to cross the Andes mountains from Chile to Argentina has been found alive, officials say.
Raul Fernando Gomez Circunegui, 58, got lost in snowstorms after his motorbike broke down.
He was found in a mountain shelter at an altitude of more than 2,800 metres by Argentine officials.
Gomez survived by eating leftover supplies in the shelter and whatever else he could catch, including rats.
He has been taken to hospital in an emaciated and dehydrated state, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Argentine officials from the north-western province of San Juan stumbled across Gomez after arriving in the area near the shelter by helicopter to record snow levels.
An enfeebled Gomez was able to open the shelter’s door and alert 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 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’.”
He is reported to have lost 20kg during the ordeal and is dehydrated, according to media reports.
A doctor who examined him was surprised by his resilience, according to Uruguayan newspaper El Pais.
“He’s a patient with high blood pressure, a history of smoking and signs of undernourishment,” the doctor was quoted as saying. “But he’s going to be fine and in a few days we’re going to discharge him.” (BBC)