Colombian authorities announced on Wednesday that four children had been found alive after they went missing more than two weeks ago when their plane crashed in the Amazon jungle, in “good news for the entire country,” according to President Gustavo Petro.
Petro wrote on Twitter: “After arduous search efforts by our military forces, we have found the four children who went missing due to a plane crash, and they are alive.”
Authorities deployed more than 100 soldiers with sniffer dogs to search for the children who were on board a plane that crashed in the Amazon on May 1, killing their mother and two other adults.
Rescue teams believe the four Aboriginal brothers, three children aged 13, 9 and 4 and an 11-month-old baby, have been wandering in the virgin forest of the southern province of Caqueta since their plane crashed on May 1.
Earlier Wednesday, the armed forces said search efforts had intensified after rescue workers found an “improvised shelter with logs and branches”, which strengthened their conviction that the children were alive.
In the photos published by the armed forces, scissors and a hair tie appeared between the branches on the forest floor, and before that a drinking bottle for an infant and a half-eaten piece of fruit were found.
Between Monday and Tuesday, the soldiers found the bodies of the pilot and two adults who were traveling from the jungle to San Jose del Guaviare, one of the main cities in the Amazon rainforest in Colombia.
Among the dead was Ranoc Mokotoi, the mother of the four children, who was of the “Huitoto” ethnicity.
The searches were hampered by giant trees that can reach 40 meters in height, wild animals and heavy rains, all of which made Operation Hope difficult.
Three helicopters were used to help, one of which released a recorded message from the children’s grandmother in Huitoto warning them not to move into the forest.
Authorities have not determined the cause of the crash, and the Colombian disaster agency said the pilot reported engine problems to the control tower just minutes before the plane disappeared from radar.
This area has few roads that are difficult to reach by river, so locals usually choose to travel by plane.
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