Authorities in Colombia confirmed Friday that four Indigenous children who went missing 40 days ago after surviving a minor plane crash in the Amazon jungle had been discovered alive, capping a frantic search that engulfed the country.
President Gustavo Petro informed reporters upon his arrival back in Bogota from Cuba, where he signed a cease-fire agreement with leaders of the National Liberation Army rebel group, that the youngsters were unaccompanied when searches discovered them and are currently receiving medical attention.
The president declared the children “examples of survival” and stated that their story “will remain in history.”
No information about how the kids survived independently was immediately made public.
The Cessna single-engine propeller plane carrying six people and a pilot made an emergency declaration owing to an engine failure in the early hours of May 1.
This was when the tragedy occurred.
Shortly after the little plane vanished from the radar, a desperate hunt for survivors started.
The plane was discovered in a dense rainforest area two weeks after the disaster, on May 16, and the remains of the three adults on board were recovered, but the little children were not present.
Sensing that they might still be alive, Colombia’s army intensified its search for the four siblings, ages 13, 9, 4, and 11 months, and flew 150 soldiers into the area with dogs to find them.
Numerous Indigenous tribe volunteers also contributed to the search.
The children were bundled in thermal blankets as the soldiers and volunteers posed for photos with them, according to images the military tweeted on Friday.
The tiniest youngster was given a bottle by one of the troops.
Later, the air force posted a video to Twitter that showed soldiers boarding a chopper with the kids using a line before taking off in the pitch-black. According to the tweet, the plane was going to San Jose del Guaviare.
Soldiers in helicopters dropped cartons of food into the forest while searching an area where vision was severely hindered by mist and dense vegetation, hoping it would help the kids survive.
Rescuers used megaphones to blast a message recorded by the siblings’ grandmother instructing them to stay in one spot while searching for the siblings using flares fired from aircraft flying over the bush at night.
Additionally, there were rumors concerning the kids’ whereabouts, and on May 18, President Petro tweeted that the kids had been located.
He later erased the post, alleging a government agency had given him incorrect information.
From the Amazonian village of Araracuara to San Jose del Guaviare, a little town on the jungle’s border, four kids had been traveling with their mother.
They belong to the Huitoto tribe, and according to officials, the older kids in the group knew how to survive in the rainforest.
The president revealed on Friday that he had initially thought the kids had been saved by one of the nomadic tribes that still roam the remote area of the jungle where the plane crashed and have little interaction with the government.
Petro clarified, however, that one of the rescue dogs the soldiers brought into the jungle had first discovered the kids.
Officials did not specify how far away from the collision scene the kids were when they were discovered.
However, the crews had been looking 4.5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) from where the little plane crashed onto the forest floor.