FOUR children have been found alive after surviving a plane crash and spending weeks fending for themselves in Colombia’s Amazon jungle.
Colombia’s President, Gustavo Petro said the rescue of the siblings, aged thirteen, nine, four and one, was “a joy for the whole country”.
He also stated that it is a “magical day, they were alone, they themselves achieved an example of total survival which will remain in history.”
‘My husband is bitter that our children are all girls, denies them access to parts of our home’
It will be recalled that the children’s mother and two pilots were killed when their light aircraft crashed in the jungle on 1 May.
The missing children became the focus of a huge rescue operation involving dozens of soldiers and local people.
The children are from the indigenous Huitoto people.
Petro posted a picture of the siblings, who had been missing for 40 days, being cared for by a number of military personnel and Indigenous people. The smallest child was fed from a bottle by one of the rescuers, who also used a spoon to feed one of the other kids from a mug.
A video shared by Colombia’s Ministry of Defence showed the children being lifted into a helicopter in the dark above the tall trees of the jungle. They have been flown to the nation’s capital Bogota, where ambulances have taken them to the hospital for further medical treatment.
The children’s grandmother, Fatima Valencia, said after their rescue: “I am very grateful, and to mother earth as well, that they were set free.
“She gave them flour and cassava bread, any fruit in the bush, they know what they must consume,” she said.
She said the eldest of the four siblings was used to looking after the other three when their mother was at work, and that this helped them survive in the jungle.
The Cessna 206 plane that the kids and their mother were in when they were killed was en route from Araracuara, in the province of Amazonas, to San José del Guaviare when it made a mayday signal owing to an engine failure.
The soldiers discovered the death of the three adults at the accident site, but it appeared that the kids had fled the debris and were looking for assistance in the rainforest.
A massive search began and in May, rescuers recovered items left behind by the children, including a child’s drinking bottle, a pair of scissors, a hair tie and a makeshift shelter.
Small footprints were also discovered, which led search teams to believe the children were still alive in the rainforest, which is home to jaguars, snakes and other predators.
Members of the children’s community hoped that their knowledge of fruits and jungle survival skills would give them a better chance of remaining alive.
Indigenous people joined the search and helicopters broadcast a message from the children’s grandmother, recorded in the Huitoto language, urging them to stop moving to make them easier to locate.