Children rescued after 40 days in the jungle – “You have set an example of survival”

Children rescued after 40 days in the jungle – “You have set an example of survival”


He feels very happy and grateful, said the grandfather of the four siblings, Narciso Mucutuy, in a moved voice to a reporter from the Caracol station on Friday (local time). Words were not enough to thank those who had supported them in finding the children.

He supplemented this with reference to state forces and helpers from indigenous communities in the region. In the early evening, the grandparents received information from the armed forces that the grandchildren, aged 13, nine, four and one year old, had been found and were “healthy and safe,” Mucutuy said. “I just want to see her now.”

According to the broadcaster, the children’s grandparents and an uncle were in a hotel in Villavicencio in the south of the country outside the Guaviare jungle area where the children were found alive on Friday afternoon. According to the aviation authority, the children have already been taken to the military hospital in the capital, Bogotá, for a medical examination.

“Joy for the whole country”

The siblings were found by emergency services in the south of the country almost six weeks after a plane crash in the Colombian Amazon. This was announced by President Gustavo Petro on Friday. “A joy for the whole country. The four children who have been missing in the Colombian rainforest for 40 days have been found alive,” tweeted the head of state.

He also published a photo of soldiers and indigenous people in the jungle who fed and supplied the children with water. “The joint efforts have made this joy possible for Colombia,” said the commander of the armed forces, General Helder Fernan Giraldo Bonilla. The four children could be seen in military photos. The smallest was carried in the arms of a soldier. The other three sat on plastic sheets on the floor and were taken care of.

“You have set an example of survival”

“They are weak. Let the doctors do their assessment,” Petro said after returning from Cuba, where he had announced a ceasefire with the left-wing guerrilla organization ELN. “They were alone, but they set an example of survival that will go down in history,” said the head of state. “This is how these children are today, the children of peace, the children of Colombia.”

Video released by the Colombian Ministry of Defense showed the children being hoisted into a helicopter hovering over the tall trees in near total darkness.

According to Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez, the children should be taken to the city of San Jose del Guaviare, about 285 kilometers southeast of Bogota. From there they were to be flown on to the capital by plane.

The children’s mother died in the crash

The siblings crashed on May 1 with a Cessna 206 propeller plane in the Caquetá department in the south of the country. Private small planes are often the only way to cover longer distances in the impassable region. The children’s mother, the pilot and an indigenous leader died in the accident.

The pilot reported problems with the engine by radio before the machine crashed, according to the preliminary report from the aviation authority. The pilot had previously announced that he wanted to ditch on a river. The small plane then collided with the treetops, the engine and propeller were torn off the machine and the plane fell vertically to the ground.

Apparently, the plane had already been braked heavily when it collided with the treetops, so that the impact on the ground was less severe. Hardly any damage was found in the rear of the cabin, the report said. The children may have exited the plane wreckage through the front door on the pilot’s left.

Baby bottle and diapers found

A major search operation involving 160 soldiers and 70 indigenous people was launched in hopes of rescuing 13-year-old Lesly, nine-year-old Soleiny, four-year-old Tien Noriel and 11-month-old Cristin. The emergency services had followed their trail and discovered a baby bottle, scissors, shoes, diapers, chewed fruit, footprints and emergency shelter.

Using the objects and traces found, the soldiers were able to reconstruct the path the children had taken so far. Accordingly, they initially removed from the crash site four kilometers to the west. Then they apparently met an obstacle and turned north. The rainforest in the region is very dense, which made the search for the missing people much more difficult. In addition, it rains almost non-stop.

Oldest sister took care of the younger ones

The children themselves belong to an indigenous community, and their knowledge of the region may have helped them survive in the jungle after the crash. Her grandmother Fátima Valencia mostly trusted her eldest sister. “She was always like her mother, she took the others to the forest,” she said recently on the radio station La FM. “She knows the plants and fruits. We indigenous people learn from an early age which ones are edible and which ones aren’t.” The children of the indigenous Huitoto or Witoto people learn to hunt, fish and gather edible plants at an early age. However, snakes, jaguars, cougars and other predators also live in the area of ​​the crash. There are also armed drug gangs active there.

The army used sniffer dogs, helicopters and satellite images for the search operation. In addition, 10,000 leaflets were dropped over the area calling on the children in Spanish and their indigenous language to stay where they are. A message was broadcast over loudspeakers in the jungle, in which the children’s grandmother called on them not to move further from the crash site so that the soldiers could find them.

The case is reminiscent of the German-Peruvian Juliane Koepcke, who survived a plane crash in the Peruvian rainforest in 1971 and was rescued ten days later. Since her parents were biologists doing research in the Amazon region, the then 17-year-old was familiar with the area and was able to make her way to a river, where she was finally found by forest workers.

According to media reports, the children in Colombia were with their mother on the way to their father, who had fled the region after constant threats from a splinter group of the guerrilla organization FARC. Although the security situation has improved after the 2016 peace agreement between the government and FARC, parts of the South American country are still controlled by illegal groups. Indigenous peoples, social activists and environmentalists in particular are repeatedly targeted by criminal gangs.

Source: Nachrichten

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