On 1 May 2023, a Cessna plane with six passengers and a pilot crashed in the Amazon jungle. The small aircraft fell off the radar after declaring an emergency due to an engine failure. Immediately a search for survivors began.
Two weeks later, the plane was found in a thick patch of the rainforest. Search crews also uncovered the bodies of three adults on board including the mother of four children who were also on board, the pilot and an indigenous leader.
The four children, aged 13, 9, 4 and 11 months old, were nowhere near the crash scene.
40 days after the plane crash, a search crew confirmed that they had found all four children deep in the jungle. Although malnourished, dehydrated and covered in insect bites, all four children are alive and doing exceptionally well – what amazing survivors!
How 4 children survived 40 days in the jungle
What we know so far is that the children were traveling with their mother from the Amazonian village of Araracuara to San Jose del Guaviare, a small city on the edge of the Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon jungle is terribly dense and dangerous and the search for the children was compared to “finding a flea in a carpet”, especially as the children continued to move.
Thirteen-year-old Lesly is said to have kept her younger siblings Soleiny, nine, Tien Noriel, five and Cristin, who turned one while in the rainforest, alive.
The children are members of the Huitoto people and it’s been suggested they relied on their grandmother’s teachings to help them survive this incredible ordeal.
“This is virgin forest, thick and dangerous and they would have used the knowledge they gained in the community, the ancestral knowledge, in order to survive,” John Moreno, an Indigenous leader from nearby Vaupes, told local media outlet Cambrio.
Small clues that the children were out there
It is unclear what the children’s exact path was right now or how far they actually travelled from the crash site but search crews did find small clues that the children were alive and on the move during their search.
The children wrapped leaves around their feet to protect them as they moved through the dense rainforest but search crews were still able to find a few children’s footprints as they combed the rainforest.
They also found discarded fruit that looked like it had been bitten by humans, a baby bottle, nappies and improvised shelters the children may have made to protect them.
How were they found?
When the plane first crashed, the idea that there would be any survivors was very slim. However, after finding the plane crash site and not being able to locate the children, the Columbian officials sensed they could be alive.
They then flew 150 Columbia army soldiers with dogs into the area to tack the four siblings. Dozens of volunteers from Indigenous tribes also helped search.
While the search crew combed the rainforest, they also relied on megaphones to share messages from their grandmother in hopes the children would hear it as well as flares to help search crews on the ground at night.
Search crews also dropped flyers and food for the children in the hopes the children would find them along their journey and remain in one place. It is unclear if the children found the food kits or flyers, which had messages in Spanish and Indigenous language saying:
“We are looking for you. Don’t move any further. Stay near a canyon or creek. Make noise. Make smoke. We’re going to save you. We are close. Your grandmother Fatima and family are looking for you.”
Hero dog who found the children is now missing
On Friday it was confirmed via a Tweet that the children had been found. In the photo, the four children are wrapped in thermal blankets surrounded by a group of soldiers and volunteers.
“The union of our efforts made this possible,” Colombia’s military command wrote on its Twitter account.
The children were allegedly discovered by one of the rescue dogs named Wilson.
Wilson, a six-year-old Belgian Shepherd had run away from his handlers in the jungle a few days prior to finding the children. He was presumed lost until rescue teams found his footprints near those of the children.
Allegedly, the canine stayed with the children for several days. Sadly, he got lost once again after the rescue and is still missing. The military is currently searching for Wilson.
Four children doing well
The four siblings are being treated in hospital and have been reunited with their family. It is expected they will remain in hospital for at least two weeks and all reports suggest they are doing really well and asking for more “books to read.”
The Special Forces chief who led the operation to find the children has also confirmed that he will become the godfather of baby Cristin, who turned one while lost in the jungle.
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Feature Image Source – Facebook