Miraculous Rescue: Four Children Found Alive in Amazon Jungle After 40 Days Alone

(Bogotá) “A miracle”, “a joy for the whole country! “. After wandering on their own for 40 days in the Amazon jungle of Colombia, four children aged 13, 9, 4 and one, survivors of a plane crash, were found alive on Friday.

Updated at 9:33 a.m.

Juan Sebastian SERRANO

France Media Agency

After announcing the rescue, President Gustavo Petro spoke of “a magical day” on his return from Cuba when the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last guerrilla still active in the country, reached an agreement six-month ceasefire.

The children “were alone, they succeeded on their own. It is an example of total survival that will go down in history. These children are therefore today the children of peace and the children of Colombia,” he said, praising “the effective coordination between the military and the natives” during the searches.

Lesly (13), Soleiny (9), Tien Noriel (4) and Cristin (1) were extracted from the jungle, airlifted and transported by helicopter to the city of San Jose del Guaviare then transported on Saturday by medical plane to Bogota, found AFP.

Upon their arrival, they were evacuated on stretchers and loaded onto several ambulances, to the applause of the soldiers and journalists present.

General Pedro Sanchez, who led the search operation, told the press that he received the message late Friday afternoon: “We have found the children! Miracle, miracle, miracle! “.

“See them, touch them”

Hailing from the Uitoto indigenous group, the children had been roaming the jungle alone since the crash on 1is May of the small Cessna 206 plane in which they were traveling with their mother, the pilot and a relative. All three adults died and their bodies were found by the military at the crash site.

According to the army, rescuers found the siblings about 5 km west of the crash site. “They are weak. Let the doctors make their prognosis,” Mr. Petro commented.

“I just want to see them, touch them,” their grandfather, Fidencio Valencia, told AFP very moved.

It is the “warrior” nature of Lesly, the eldest of the siblings, which allowed them to survive, judged grandmother Fatima Valencia. “She usually always took care of her siblings when their mother was working. Gave them flour, cassava bread, fruits from the bush.”

Photos released by the army show the children, in the middle of the thick vegetation, seated on tarpaulins, surrounded by soldiers and natives giving them food and drink. They are in jeans and filthy long-sleeved T-shirts for the two older ones, their feet wrapped in bandages. Two others are swaddled in survival blankets.

The smallest, Cristin, is in the arms of one of her rescuers. She turned one while wandering the jungle with her siblings, according to Colombian press. The four faces appear very emaciated.

More than 100 soldiers accompanied by sniffer dogs and dozens of natives have been looking for the children since the discovery of the plane, their noses planted on the ground in the middle of thick vegetation.

Still according to the army, the rescuers of this “operation hope” traveled, in more than a month, nearly 2656 km in this impenetrable jungle.

The children’s chances of survival seemed to decrease day by day, in this very hostile environment where jaguars, pumas, snakes and other predators roam. Insects of all kinds are particularly voracious there, and there is also the question of vital access to drinking water.

The region is also an area of ​​strong influence for the dissident FARC, an armed group with which peace talks were recently broken off.

“Total Survival”

The news of the children’s disappearance had gone around the world, with videos and photos of the search operations carried out by the army, which followed their trail with the discovery of a bottle, scissors, shoes, nappies , chewed fruit, footprints or makeshift shelters.

Wilson, a six-year-old Belgian shepherd dog who got lost in recent days during searches has still not been found, lamented the head of state.

Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez paid tribute to the various army units, “unshakeable and tireless”, as well as to the natives who took part in the research, extended over 320 km and then 20 square km.

The Air Force joined the operation with three helicopters. Using a loudspeaker on board a device, a message recorded by the children’s grandmother was broadcast. Survival kits were thrown all over the jungle.

Satellite technologies had also been deployed to try to determine the path that the children could have taken in this impenetrable green hell, rinsed daily by torrential rains.

“We never got discouraged,” assured the grandmother. She now hopes to obtain custody of the children “to give them a good education”. ” […] It will be my pride. My daughter (who died in the accident) is watching me, she will encourage me spiritually and give me strength”.