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Four children found alive in Amazon after 40 days

The Colombian military shared a photo of the children in the jungle

Four children have been found alive after surviving a plane crash and spending weeks fending for themselves in Colombia’s Amazon jungle.

Colombia’s president said the rescue of the siblings, aged 13, nine, four and one, was “a joy for the whole country”.

The children’s mother and two pilots were killed when their light aircraft crashed in the jungle on 1 May.

The missing group became the focus of a huge rescue operation involving dozens of soldiers and local people.

President Gustavo Petro said finding the children was a “magical day”, adding: “They were alone, they themselves achieved an example of total survival which will remain in history.

“These children are today the children of peace and the children of Colombia.”

Mr Petro shared a photograph of several members of the military and Indigenous community tending to the siblings, who had been missing for 40 days.

He said the children were receiving medical attention – and that he had spoken to their grandfather, who told him “the mother jungle returned them”.

The children have been flown to the nation’s capital Bogota, where ambulances took them to hospital for further medical treatment.

The Cessna 206 aircraft the children and their mother had been travelling on before the crash was flying from Araracuara, in Amazonas province, to San José del Guaviare, when it issued a mayday alert due to engine failure.

The bodies of the three adults were found at the crash site by the army, but it appeared that the children had escaped the wreckage and wandered into the rainforest to find help.

A massive search began and in May, rescuers recovered items left behind by the children, including a child’s drinking bottle, a pair of scissors, a hair tie and a makeshift shelter.

Small footprints were also discovered, which led search teams to believe the children were still alive in the rainforest, which is home to jaguars, snakes and other predators.

The children belong to the Huitoto indigenous group and members of their community hoped that their knowledge of fruits and jungle survival skills would give them a better chance of remaining alive.

Indigenous people joined the search and helicopters broadcast a message from the children’s grandmother, recorded in the Huitoto language, urging them to stop moving to make them easier to locate.

Colombia’s president came under criticism last month when a tweet published on his account mistakenly announced that the children had been found.

He erased the tweet the next day saying that the information – which his office had been given by Colombia’s child welfare agency – could not be confirmed.

Colombian military soldiers pose for a photo after the rescue of child survivors from a Cessna 206 plane that crashed on May 1 in the jungles of Caqueta, in limits between Caqueta and Guaviare, in this handout photo released June 9, 2023.

Soldiers pose for a photo with the children, whose faces have been blurred

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