A soldier and a dog take part in a search operation for child survivors from a Cessna 206 plane that had crashed in the jungle more than two weeks ago, in Caqueta, Colombia May 17, 2023. (PHOTO / COLOMBIAN AIR FORCE / HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
BOGOTA – Four children from an Indigenous community in Colombia were found alive in the south of the country more than two weeks after the plane they were traveling in crashed in thick jungle, President Gustavo Petro said on Wednesday.
The children were rescued by members of the military, firefighters and civil aviation authority officials in the dense jungle of Colombia's Caqueta province.
Preliminary information from the civil aviation authority, which coordinated the rescue efforts, suggests the children escaped the plane and set off into the rainforest to find help
The plane – a Cessna 206 – was carrying seven people on a route between Araracuara, in Amazonas province, and San Jose del Guaviare, a city in Guaviare province, when it issued a mayday alert due to engine failure in the early hours of May 1.
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"After arduous searching by our military, we have found alive the four children who went missing after a plane crash in Guaviare. A joy for the country," Petro said in a message via Twitter.
Three adults, including the pilot, died as a result of the crash and their bodies were found inside the plane. The four children, aged 13, 9 and 4, as well as an 11-month-old baby, survived the impact.
Preliminary information from the civil aviation authority, which coordinated the rescue efforts, suggests the children escaped the plane and set off into the rainforest to find help.
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Rescuers, supported by search dogs, had previously found discarded fruit the children ate to survive, as well as improvised shelters made with jungle vegetation.
Airplanes and helicopters from both Colombia's army and air force participated in the rescue operations.