It’s been 40 days since an ill-fated plane crashed in Columbia. Since then, the world has watched the wreckage of the crash and mourned the 71 passengers, including members of a Brazilian team that was on the plane. We longed to hear news of passengers who might have cheated death.
That horrific incident posed an unsettling question that had been gnawing away at us. The rescue operation failed to track four children aged 13, nine, four and one. Finally, came the news the world was eagerly waiting for. The children were found alive, fending for themselves in Colombia’s Amazon jungle. The word miracle fits best to describe the significance of this event, especially since the rainforest is reportedly home to snakes, jaguars, and other predators.
Colombia’s Ministry of Defence shared a video showing the children helped into a helicopter. The scene was captured in the dark above the towering trees of a jungle. The children have been flown to Bogota for treatment.
The BBC reported that President Gustavo Petro called the day “magical”. “They were alone, they achieved an example of total survival which will remain in history. These children are today the children of peace and the children of Colombia,” he was quoted as saying.
Mr Petro also shared pictures of members of the military and indigenous communities showering the children with love, the BBC reported. One rescuer held a bottle up to the smallest child, while another fed one of the other children with a spoon. Mr Petro mentioned that he spoke to their grandfather who told him “mother jungle returned them.”
Colombia’s president was criticised when his tweet mistakenly announced that the children had been found. However, he erased the tweet the next day, clarifying that the information could not be confirmed.
The items left behind by the children — a pair of scissors, a hair tie, a drinking bottle and a makeshift shelter — gave the rescue operation team vital cues. They discovered small footprints which fuelled them with optimism that the children were alive. Since the children belong to the Huitoto indigenous group, it was hoped their knowledge of the jungle and survival skills would sustain them till they were found.
The report added that a message had been broadcast from the children’s grandmother — it was recorded in the Huitoto language — urging the locals to stop moving so that the little ones could be located.
Their mother and two pilots were reportedly killed when the light aircraft crashed on May 1.