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Monday 25 September 2017

Andes rescue man fled sex charges

The man had been reported missing in May while trying to cycle across the Andes between Chile and Argentina, officials said
The man had been reported missing in May while trying to cycle across the Andes between Chile and Argentina, officials said

A Uruguayan man who was rescued after spending four months apparently lost in the Andes was on the run from child sex allegations, it has emerged.

An emaciated Raul Gomez was rescued by an Argentine helicopter crew more than four months after he was last heard from, and is recovering in hospital.

Authorities said he survived through the winter after disappearing along Chile's high-altitude border with Argentina. Repeated search efforts were called off due to bad weather after failing to turn up any sign of him amid the snow-covered peaks.

It was not immediately clear why the 58-year-old plumber and motorcycle enthusiast with no apparent mountaineering experience was so determined to walk across the Chilean frontier.

Gomez had travelled to Argentina and then Chile to meet up with other motorcyclists. He told people in hospital that he decided to cross back over on foot in May after his motorcycle broke down.

But an official in the Chilean prosecutor's office in Santiago said Gomez is wanted in Chile's capital for investigation of child sex abuse allegations. A warrant was issued for his arrest on April 22, the official said.

In Gomez's home town of Bella Union, his mother, Irma Cincunegui, said she did not believe the allegations. "Raul is a good, hard-working man," she said. "Everybody knows him in Bella Union, where he never had troubles with anybody."

Gomez was discovered on Sunday at the Ingeniero Sardina refuge, a small cabin 14,760ft above sea level, by a pilot and two state water experts who had flown up to measure snow levels. He told them he took shelter in the refuge after getting disoriented by the Southern Hemisphere's winter snowstorms.

He had been carrying a small amount of food, and said he ate other meagre supplies mountaineers had left in the refuge. When that ran out, he told his rescuers that he survived by capturing small animals. Hospital Rawson spokesman Rodrigo Belert said: "He lost 20 kilos (45lb). He apparently fed himself with mice and an owl or two."

Gomez was joined by his two daughters and wife in the intensive care unit of the hospital in San Juan province.

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