Sunday, June 4, 2023

Petro announces rescue of four children lost in 17 days in Colombian jungle

Four indigenous children who went missing following a plane crash have been found alive, after 17 days in the Colombian Amazon jungle, President Gustavo Petro announced on Wednesday.

These are three minors aged 13, 9 and 4 and an 11-month-old baby, who have been missing since May 1, when the plane they were traveling in crashed due to mechanical failure.

The Colombian President said on Twitter, “After difficult search efforts by our military forces, we have found alive the 4 children who disappeared due to the plane crash (…) a joy for the country.”

Led by the military, search efforts found the bodies of three people killed in the crash, including the pilot and the mother of four brothers from the Huetoto ethnic group.

More than 100 soldiers with sniffer dogs followed the trail of the minors and moved through the forest between the southern departments of Guaviare and Caqueta, where the plane was destroyed in front.

Petro did not say where the children were rescued or any other details of their experience while they were missing. The military has not ruled the defense.

In a statement, Avianline Charters, the owner of the crashed plane, assured that one of its pilots in the search area had been informed of the discovery of children who “were being boated down the river and they were all alive”. ”

However, he also indicated that “nothing has been officially confirmed” and that lightning storms in the area could cause minor falls halfway through making the river difficult to navigate.

During rescue operations, soldiers had found an “improvised shelter lined with sticks and branches”, which they suspected contained at least one living person.

Some scissors, hair ties, shoes, clothes and a bottle, located among the branches of the forest, served as a signal to the uniformed officers.

German Camargo, director of civil defense at the Meta department from where the search efforts were coordinated, told AFP they also found “harvested fruits of the forest”.

– By land and air –

Huge trees up to 40 meters high, wild animals and heavy rain made the search difficult.

The Air Force joined in the so-called “Operation Hope” with three helicopters, which flew over the dense jungle for several days.

One of them had a speaker “capable of covering an area of ​​about 1,500 metres” with a recorded message by the children’s grandmother. In the Huatoto language, the woman told her grandchildren that she was looking for them and asked them not to continue through the forest.

The authorities have not informed the reasons for the migration of the tribal family. According to the local press, the seventh passenger was a leader of that community.

In this difficult-to-access area by river and no highways, residents usually travel by private flights.

According to the Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Huatotos live “in harmony” with the hostile conditions of the Amazon and preserve traditions such as hunting, fishing, and gathering wild fruits.

According to the official disaster response body, minutes before the crash, the pilot reported a problem with the plane’s engine.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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