Colombian authorities carried out an intensive weeks-long search for the lost siblings © Twitter / FuerzasMilCol
Four children who went missing after a plane crash over the Amazon jungle last month have been found alive, according to officials in Colombia. With the youngest aged just 12 months old, the kids endured the elements for nearly six weeks straight.
The Colombian military announced the news in a tweet on Friday night, sharing images showing the children alongside soldiers and rescue personnel.
“The union of efforts made this joy possible for Colombia. Glory to the soldiers of the [Colombian Military Forces, to the indigenous communities and institutions that were part of Operation Hope,” it said, referring to the search mission.
#GeneralGiraldo: “La unión de esfuerzos hizo posible esta alegría para Colombia” Gloria a los soldados de las @FuerzasMilCol, a las comunidades indígenas e instituciones que hicieron parte de la #OperaciónEsperanza” pic.twitter.com/LO3BPldLgD
— Fuerzas Militares de Colombia (@FuerzasMilCol) June 10, 2023
Colombian President Gustavo Petro celebrated the rescue in his own social media post, also calling it a “joy for the whole country.” While the children’s condition was not immediately clear, he told reporters that they were “weak” when found and are now receiving medical attention.
The four siblings were reportedly spotted near the boundary between Colombia’s Guaviare and Caqueta provinces, not far from the crash site of a single-engine Cessna plane which went down over the jungle on May 1. The childrens’ parents were killed in the accident, as was the pilot of the small craft. Their bodies were previously found near the plane, which went down after an engine failure.
The kids, aged 13, 9, 4 and 1, hail from the indigenous Huitoto people, who are native to southern Colombia and northern Peru. Officials said the two eldest children had some experience surviving in the rainforest, skills that may have helped them brave their ordeal.
Late last month, President Petro was forced to retract a statement after declaring that the kids had been found “after arduous searching by our military.” He later apologized for the premature announcement, saying the information had been passed to him by the state-run Colombian Institute of Family Welfare but was not confirmed.
At least 150 soldiers took part in the sprawling search operation, as well as helicopters and other military aircraft. The planes dropped supplies over the area the children were thought to be located, also launching flares at night to illuminate the thick foliage for rescuers on the ground. Search teams also used loudspeakers to play a recorded message from the children’s grandmother telling them to stay put, hoping they would be more receptive to a familiar voice. (RT)