Four children, aged 13, 9 and 4, as well as an 11-month-old baby, were finally rescued in Colombia after a 5-week harrowing ordeal.
Several weeks ago, news reports had initially declared the children had been rescued after two weeks in the jungle. However, that news was premature. Search teams had, in fact, only found the downed plane that took the life of the three adults on board, including the children’s mother. Rescuers also found signs that the children were still alive after discovering discarded fruit the children ate and shelters they improvised in the jungle.
But rescuers did not find the children. But they also did not give up. The search continued for several more weeks with searchers using megaphones to share messages from their grandmother and dropping flyers and food for the children in the hopes the children would find them.
“Everything is planned to insert (in the jungle) the food kits of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, designed to extend the life of the (missing) children in the area. We are using loudspeakers in the area and will also launch flyers (with a message for the children). We will exhaust all possibilities to find these four children,” authorities said on May 20, 2023.
The flyers included messages in Spanish and Indigenous language reading: “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.”
It would take several more weeks to find the children. In total the children survived in the Amazon jungle for 40 days. Malnourished and covered in insect bites, the children showed remarkable resourcefulness in surviving in the harsh environments.
The indigenous community where the children come from say that their grandmother’s teachings helped the children survive.
“This is a 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 Cambio.
Two days before the children were found Brigadier General Pedro Sanchez, who was part of the search team, likened the search in the dense jungle as less as a needle in a haystack and more a “flea in the carpet”
“This isn’t a needle in a haystack, it’s a tiny flea in a rug, because they keep moving. But if, God forbid, they were dead we would have already have found them, because they would be still” the Guardian reported the Brigadier General as saying.
The children wrapped leaves around their feet and conditions in the dense jungle made it difficult to track them but sniffer dogs aided with finally locating them. Malnourished and covered in insect bites, the children are being flown to a nearby hospital to recover and reunite with their family.