BUENOS AIRES – Argentine authorities have rescued a 58-year-old Uruguayan man who had been lost in the Andes mountains since May.
Raul Gomez Cincunegui was spotted at the Sardina mountain shelter on Sunday, at an altitude of some 4,500 meters (nearly 15,000 feet) in the Los Patos Sur valley.
Police then transferred him by helicopter to a hospital in the eponymous capital of western San Juan province.
“It’s a miracle,” San Juan Governor Jose Luis Gioja said.
Rawson Hospital chief of operations Victor Olmos said Gomez was recovering in the intensive care unit but was “only dehydrated” and otherwise in good health. He also had signs of malnutrition.
Gomez survived feeding on sugar and raisins he had with him, as well as food stored in mountain shelters, according to a police report.
“I still cannot believe it. He came here and spoke by phone with his wife, his mother and daughter. He was very excited, though exhausted,” said Gioja.
Gomez had been reported missing in May while he traveled by motorcycle from Uruguay to Chile. There, his motorcycle broke down so he decided to cross the Andes on foot.
He said he became disoriented after heavy snowfall and was left stranded at an altitude of 13,000 feet.
A search for Gomez was called off in July due to heavy snowstorms.
Gomez, who has a history of heart and respiratory problems, ventured across the mountain range after crossings for hikers were closed on April 30.
His case recalled the Andes flight disaster of 1972, when a charter plane carrying members of the Old Christians rugby team of Uruguay crashed in the Andes.
The accident left 29 dead — some due to the crash and others due to an avalanche — and the 16 survivors were rescued alive after spending 72 days stranded in the harsh, high-altitude mountain conditions. Their ordeal was made into film and television shows, including the 1993 feature “Alive.”