Rescuer with the children: 40 days in the jungle
Photo: PRENSA PRESIDENCIA / AFP
40 days after the crash of a small plane in the Colombian rainforest, four surviving children have been rescued from the jungle. During their search operation in the Amazon region, emergency services found the siblings aged 13, 9 and 4 years and one year in the south of the country. This was announced by Colombian President Gustavo Petro.
"A joy for the whole country. The four children who have been missing for 40 days in the Colombian rainforest have been found alive," the head of state wrote on Twitter. To this end, he published a photo of soldiers and indigenous people in the jungle who supplied and fed the children with water.
The siblings had crashed on May 1 with a Cessna 206 propeller plane in the department of Caquetá in the south of the country. Private small aircraft are often the only way to cover longer distances in the impassable region. The children's mother, the pilot and an indigenous leader were killed in the accident. In search of the children, the soldiers found shoes, diapers, hair ties, purple scissors, a baby bottle, an emergency shelter made of leaves and branches, and half-eaten fruit.
Based on the objects and traces found, the soldiers were able to reconstruct the children's path so far. Accordingly, they first moved away from the crash site four kilometers to the west. Then, apparently, they encountered an obstacle and turned north. The rainforest in the region is very dense, which made the search for the missing much more difficult. In addition, it rains almost continuously.
Trust in the 13-year-old
The children – three girls and one boy – belong to an indigenous community themselves, and their knowledge of the region may have helped them survive in the jungle after the crash. Her grandmother, Fátima Valencia, trusted her eldest sister above all. "She was always like the mother, she took the others with her into 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 you can eat and which you can't."
The case commemorates the German-Peruvian Juliane Koepcke, who survived a plane crash in the Peruvian rainforest in 1971 and was rescued after ten days. Since her parents were biologists in the Amazon, the then 17-year-old was familiar with the surroundings 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 on their way with their mother to their father, who had fled the region after constant threats from a splinter group of the FARC guerrilla organization. Although the security situation has improved since the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the FARC, parts of the South American country are still controlled by illegal groups. Above all, indigenous people, social activists and environmentalists are repeatedly targeted by criminal gangs.