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Rescue after 40 days in the jungle: how the children are doing now

Rescue after 40 days in the jungle: how the children are doing now
Great joy for the family: The grandfather of the rescued children falls into the arms of Colombian President Gustavo Petro
Image: (APA/AFP/Colombian Presidency/PRENSA PRESIDENCIAL)
The Colombian President paid a visit to the children in the hospital.
Image: (APA/AFP/Colombian Presidency/HANDOUT)

“I visited them. They are very exhausted, the poor ones,” grandfather Filencio Valencia told the newspaper “El Tiempo” on Saturday after visiting his grandchildren in the military hospital in Bogotá. “They are sleeping. They are malnourished. They are thin, very thin.”

Grandmother Fátima Valencia also visited the siblings in the hospital. “I weep with joy. The children are exhausted, but I have my daughter’s flesh and blood back.” The children’s mother died in the May 1 plane crash in the south of the country. Since then, soldiers and indigenous people had been looking for the children in the rough terrain.

Father also admitted to the hospital

The father of the siblings aged 13, 9 and 5 years and one year also took part in the search. After the children were found, he accompanied them to the military hospital in Bogotá. “I’ve also been admitted. I’m sick,” said Manuel Ranoque. “I have a high fever. I’ve been fighting for 40 days to find my children.”

Found after weeks of searching

The four children were found after weeks of searching in the Colombian rainforest. A double miracle, because the siblings not only survived a plane crash, but also 40 days in the dense jungle. Her grandmother attributed the survival of the four indigenous children primarily to the combative nature of the eldest girl, Lesly. She called her granddaughter a “warrior” who ensured the children’s survival in the jungle. “She has always regularly looked after her brothers and sisters when their mother was working,” she said.

Up to three weeks in the hospital

Colombian President Gustavo Petro was informed about the health of the siblings at the military hospital in Bogotá on Saturday. “The children are recovering. They are drinking liquids. But they cannot eat yet,” said Defense Minister Ivan Velásquez after the visit. Military doctor Carlos Rincón Arango said the children had a number of minor injuries and were malnourished. Given the circumstances, they are in an acceptable condition. He expects a hospital stay of two to three weeks.

The Colombian President paid a visit to the children in the hospital.
Image: (APA/AFP/Colombian Presidency/HANDOUT)

The children were found on Friday in the rainforest in the south of the country. They crashed on May 1 with a Cessna 206 propeller plane in the Caquetá department. The children’s mother, the pilot and an indigenous leader died in the accident. For more than a month, soldiers and indigenous people had searched for the siblings in the impassable area. Both the one-year-old girl and the five-year-old boy had their birthdays during this time.

The children were discovered about five kilometers as the crow flies from the crash site. The newspaper “El Tiempo” reported on this distance on Saturday, citing the armed forces of the South American country. Using the objects and traces found, the soldiers were able to reconstruct the children’s route. Accordingly, they initially removed from the crash site four kilometers to the west. Then they apparently met an obstacle and turned north.

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.

Search dog is missing

However, after the children were rescued, one person was missing: the Belgian shepherd Wilson, who, according to media reports, had tracked down tracks and made a significant contribution to the success of the search, had not returned to the emergency services. The search for Wilson will continue, the armed forces announced.

Source: Nachrichten

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