Raul Fernando Gomez Circunegui
Raul Circunegui rescued after four months lost in the Andes (GHM Contenidos/YouTube)

A Uruguayan man has been found alive after he was lost for four months in the Andes after surviving on a diet of rats and raisins.

Raul Circunegui, 58, went missing in May after trying to cross the mountain range from Chile to Argentina.

His motorbike broke down, forcing him to continue his journey on foot until he lost his way in a snowstorm.

For the next four months, he battled the harsh winter as he struggled to find his way back to safety. A search party was launched to find him but was abandoned in July because of the harsh conditions.

He was found in a shelter 2,840m above sea level by a researchers from the northwestern province of San Juan, who were in the area recording snow levels.

Weak with starvation and the rigours of the mountains, he alerted them to his presence by opening the door to the shelter. One rescuer saw him inside.

The local Diario de Cuyo newspaper said that Circunegui could barely move and asked for something sweet to eat.


He told his rescuers that he ate snow, sugar, raisins and rats that he trapped to survive, as well as supplies left over in the shelter where he was staying.

He had lost 20kg and was dehydrated but otherwise healthy.

San Juan governor Jose Gioja told said: "This is a miracle. We still can't believe it. 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.'"

A doctor told the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais: "He's a patient with high blood pressure, a history of smoking and signs of undernourishment, [but] he's going to be fine and in a few days we're going to discharge him."

His rescue was reminiscent of the 1972 Andes crash of the aircraft carrying the Uruguayan rugby team to Chile.

Of the 45 people on board, 16 survived and spent two months trapped in the mountains. They later told how they turned to cannibalism, eating the bodies of the dead, to survive. Their story was told in the 1993 film Alive with Ethan Hawke.