Photo: LUIS ROBAYO/AFP / Getty Images
After 17 days wandering in the Colombian Amazon, eating jungle fruits and at the mercy of wild animals, four indigenous children who were missing after a plane crash were found alives this Wednesday by rescue teams.
These are three children ages 13, 9 and 4 and an 11-month-old baby who have been missing since May 1, when the aircraft they were traveling in crashed apparently due to a mechanical failure.
“After arduous search efforts by our Military Forces, we have found alive the 4 children who had disappeared due to the plane crash (…) A joy for the country,” said President Gustavo Petro. On twitter.
Led by the military, the search efforts ended with a balance of three deaths, including the pilot and the mother of the four brothers from the Huitoto ethnic group.
More than 100 soldiers with tracking dogs followed the trail of the children and walked through the jungle between the departments of Caquetáwhere the plane was left with the front part destroyed, and Guaviare, both in the south of the country.
Petro did not detail where the children were rescued or how many kilometers they managed to cover while they were lost. The soldiers had found a “makeshift shelter made of sticks and branches”, so they suspected there was at least one survivor.
Some scissors, hair ties, shoes, clothes and a bottle located in the middle of branches of the jungle served as an indication for the uniformed officers. Also, they found “bitten fruits of the jungle,” he told the agency AFP Germán Camargo, director of Civil Defense in the department of Meta, from where the efforts to rescue and extract the bodies of the pilot and two passengers who were located in the department of Caquetá were coordinated.
“Operation Hope” in search of four children lost in the jungle
The Air Force joined the so-called “Operation Hope” with three helicopters that flew over the dense jungle. One of them carried a speaker “capable of covering an area of about 1,500 meters” with a message recorded by the children’s grandmother. In the Huitoto language, the woman tells her grandchildren that they are looking for them and asks them not to continue advancing through the jungle.
The authorities have not reported the reasons for the flight of the indigenous family. In this region of difficult access by river and without highways, the inhabitants usually travel in private flights.
According to the Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Huitoto live in “harmony” with the hostile conditions of the Amazon and preserve traditions such as hunting, fishing and gathering wild fruits. The pilot reported problems with the aircraft’s engine minutes before the accident, according to the official disaster response body.
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