Four young children have been found alive after more than a month wandering the Amazon where they survived like “children of the jungle,” according to Colombian President Gustavo Petro.
“Their learning from indigenous families and their learning of living in the jungle has saved them,” Petro told reporters on Friday, after announcing on Twitter that they had been found 40 days after they went missing following a plane crash that killed their mother.
Petro said the children were all together when they were found, adding they had demonstrated an example of “total survival that will be remembered in history.”
“They are children of the jungle and now they are children of Colombia,” he added.
Authorities were able to locate the children after hearing the cries of the youngest child, an infant, Indigenous leader Lucho Acosta told CNN on Saturday. Acosta is the coordinator of indigenous scouts in the Colombian Amazon region who assisted in the search.
“They were very weak, we could find them by listening to the cries of the youngest one, but they were really tired, they were no longer on the move, like in the first few weeks,” Acosta said.
Revealing their discovery earlier in the day, the Colombian president had tweeted an image that seems to show search crews treating the children in a forest clearing, along with the words: “A joy for the whole country!”
Their grandmother, María Fátima Valencia, said she was “going to hug all of them” and “thank everyone” as soon as they were reunited in their home city of Villavicencio, where they live.
“I’m going to encourage them, I’m going to push them forward, I need them here,” she said.
The children, who appear gaunt in the photos, were evaluated by doctors before being flown out by the Colombian Air Force on an air ambulance to the Military Transport Air Command in Bogota, the capital, early Saturday morning.
Four medics, including a pediatrician and a neonatologist, provided treatment on board the plane, according to the air force.
The air ambulance landed at the Military Transport Air Command in Bogota Saturday morning, data from Fightradar24 showed.
“We hope that tomorrow they will be treated at the military hospital,” Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez said earlier Friday night, while praising the Colombian military and indigenous communities for helping find them.
Petro said the children were weak, needed food and would have their mental status assessed. “Let the doctors make their assessment and we will know,” he added.
Stranded after plane crash
Lesly Jacobombaire Mucutuy, aged 13, Soleiny Jacobombaire Mucutuy, 9, Tien Ranoque Mucutuy, 4, and infant Cristin Ranoque Mucutuy were stranded in the jungle on May 1, the only survivors of a deadly plane crash.
Their mother, Magdalena Mucutuy Valencia, was killed in the crash along with two other adult passengers: pilot Hernando Murcia Morales and Yarupari indigenous leader Herman Mendoza Hernández.