Four Indigenous children from Colombia were missing in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia for a total of forty days after their plane crashed.
The youngsters were found alive on Friday, putting an end to a large search operation that had been underway since Wednesday. Rescue workers had been uncovering a constant series of clues regarding their whereabouts.
They were taken by helicopter to the nation’s capital, Bogota, where emergency medical services were already waiting for them. AFP examines the order of events in the timeline.
A Cessna 206 aircraft owned and operated by Avianline Charters took off from the Araracuara region of the jungle early on the morning of May 1 bound for San Jose del Guaviare, which is one of the most important towns in the Colombian Amazon.
Magdalena Mucutui Valencia and her four children, ages 13, 9, 4, and 11 months, were on board the aircraft together with the Indigenous community leader who flew the plane, who was also an Indigenous person.
In a matter of minutes after taking off from the jungle airstrip to begin the 350-kilometer (217-mile) mission, the pilot reported engine troubles, and the aircraft was subsequently lost from radar.
Officials claim that the four Huitoto children and their mother boarded the aircraft because they feared for their safety after receiving threats from members of an armed group.
Manifestations of life
Soldiers searched the region around Caqueta on both May 15 and May 16 before discovering the bodies of the pilot and the two adults. The nose of the plane was destroyed, and it became vertically entangled in the dense vegetation.
They were not successful in locating the children.
A search dog was able to locate the baby’s bottle in a remote area close to the scene of the accident.
There was a strong possibility that there was at least one survivor, which led to the deployment of more than one hundred military soldiers to the area.
Dozens of indigenous people from adjacent villages participated in the search. These people are accustomed to going through the Amazon, which is home to a variety of dangerous animals, including jaguars, snakes, and other predators, as well as armed drug smuggling groups.
Flyers containing instructions and survival advice written in Spanish as well as the children’s native tongue were scattered across the forest by military aircraft in the amount of 10 thousand.
An audio tape of the children’s grandmother was played over the radio by an air force chopper, telling the youngsters to remain in place.
Among the trees were discovered shoes, garments, and fruit that had been partially consumed.
Soldiers also discovered an abandoned rebel camp approximately 2.5 kilometers away from the location of the crash.
The “Operation Hope” search was made more challenging by the heavy rainfall and the presence of large trees that can reach heights of up to 40 meters (130 feet).
After three weeks had gone since the crash, soldiers claimed that they had come within one hundred meters of the youngsters after discovering diapers and shoes. The search was narrowed down to a region of bush that was 20 square kilometers in size.
On May 17, the soldiers came upon an improvised shelter that was built out of twigs and sticks. In addition, a dog discovered a pair of scissors and some hair ties.
On the same day, President Gustavo Petro made the announcement that the missing children had been located and were discovered to be alive. The following day, however, he recanted the declaration, claiming that he had been provided misleading information.
After spending close to a month lost in the forest, the military put together a symbolic celebration on May 26 for the infant, who turned one year old on that day. The baby had spent the previous day celebrating his first birthday.
At long last discovered
Petro made the announcement that the children had been found alive on June 9 and shared a photo that showed them surrounded by Indigenous people and soldiers who had engaged in the search for them. The children appear to be underweight, and they do not have any shoes on.
They were by themselves and managed to succeed despite this. “A textbook case of complete survival that will be recounted for generations to come,” the president remarked.
The youngsters were located by rescue workers approximately 5 kilometers to the west of the accident site, according to the military.
According to the minister of defense, rescue workers from the army “immediately took charge and stabilized” the four siblings before transporting them to San Jose del Guaviare.
On the morning of June 10, they arrived at a military airport in Bogota, where ambulances were already waiting to transport them to a hospital.