Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Four Children for 40 Days in Colombian Jungle After Plane Crash.

Bringing a happy conclusion to a search-and-rescue saga that captivated a nation and forced the typically antagonistic military and Indigenous people to cooperate, four Indigenous children survived an Amazonian plane crash that killed three adults and then braved the jungle for 40 days before being found alive by Colombian soldiers.

The children’s exceptional survival in a region where snakes, mosquitoes, and other animals are common was made possible in large part by cassava flour and a basic understanding of the fruits of the jungle. The Huitoto people, who are 13 years old, 9 years old, and 4 years and 11 months old, are anticipated to spend at least two weeks undergoing medical care at a hospital following their Friday rescue.

The kids were welcomed Saturday at the hospital in Bogota, the country’s capital, by family members, President Gustavo Petro, and government and military representatives. Iván Velásquez, the defence minister, told reporters that the kids were being rehydrated but weren’t yet ready to eat.

However, the general state of the youngsters is satisfactory, according to Velásquez. When the plane crashed in the early hours of May 1, they were travelling with their mother from the Amazonian town of Araracuara to San Jose del Guaviare.

The Cessna single-engine propeller plane was carrying four kids and three adults when the pilot sounded the alarm owing to an engine failure. Shortly after the little plane disappeared from radar, rescue efforts for the passengers started.

The kids’ uncle, Fidencio Valencia, told reporters outside the hospital, “When the plane crashed, they took out (from the wreckage) a faria, and with that, they survived.” In the Amazon area, people consume faria, a cassava flour.

They started eating seeds once the faria ran out, Valencia claimed.

The kids’ timing was favourable. The children could also eat fruit since “the jungle was in harvest,” according to Astrid Cáceres, director of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare.

According to an air force video published on Friday, the children were pulled up by lines by a chopper since it was unable to land in the deep rainforest where they were discovered. The military posted images of a group of troops and volunteers posing with the kids while they were covered in thermal blankets on Friday. The tiniest youngster was given a bottle by one of the troops.

The youngsters were discovered 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the accident site in a tiny wooded clearing, according to Gen. Pedro Sanchez, who oversaw the rescue operations. He said that on a few occasions, rescue personnel had been within 20 to 50 metres (66 to 164 feet) of where the kids were discovered but had missed them.

Sanchez claimed that the children were already quite frail. And undoubtedly, their power was just sufficient to breathe, pick up a little fruit to eat, or get a single sip of water in the forest.

The youngsters were described as a “example of survival” by Petro, who also prophesied that their story “will remain in history.”

 

The plane was discovered in a dense area of the jungle two weeks after the disaster, on May 16, and the remains of the three adults on board were retrieved, but the little children were not present.

The Colombian army ramped up the search when they thought they could still be alive and flew 150 soldiers with dogs into the region, where sight was severely hindered by mist and dense vegetation. Numerous volunteers from Native American groups also participated in the search.

Soldiers on chopper missions threw food boxes into the forest in the hopes that it would nourish the kids. Rescuers utilised speakers to broadcast a message recorded by the siblings’ parents over the region, and planes flying overhead sprayed flares to aid search teams on the ground at night.

Shortly after President Gustavo Petro and leaders of the National Liberation Army rebel group agreed a cease-fire, word of their rescue was made public. He emphasised the collaborative efforts of the military and Indigenous communities to find the youngsters, in keeping with his government’s narrative emphasising his attempts to put a stop to internal disputes.

He tweeted, “The fusion of indigenous and military knowledge.” “This is a different path for Colombia; in my opinion, it leads to true peace.”

According to the children’s aunt Damaris Mucutuy, “the children are fine” despite being dehydrated and covered in mosquito bites. She continued by saying that mental health treatments had been provided for the kids.

According to Cáceres, administrators and the parents of the kids agreed to permit “spiritual work” at the hospital and the forest “if there was no immediate emergency action” required. According to her, the hospital will permit musicians and musical equipment representative of the children’s culture.

The oldest child, a girl, was recognised for her bravery by the authorities since she guided the other kids through the experience and was claimed to have some understanding of how to live in the rain forest.

Rumours concerning their location circulated prior to their recovery. It got to the point where Petro tweeted on May 18 that the kids had been located. He then erased the post, alleging a government agency had given him incorrect information.

The dog disappeared after the kids claimed to have spent some time with it, according to officials. Soldiers brought a rescue dog into the woods. By Saturday, the dog, a Belgian Shepherd called Wilson, was still being sought after by the military.

For a while, according to Petro, he had thought the kids had been saved by one of the nomadic tribes who still inhabit the isolated region where the plane crashed and have little interaction with the government.

Soldiers discovered a pair of footprints, a baby bottle, diapers, and bits of fruit that appeared to have been nibbled by humans as the hunt went on, giving them hope that the kids were still alive.

“The jungle saved them,” Petro said. They were born in the bush, but they are now also Colombian citizens.