After 17 days in the Colombian Amazon jungle, four indigenous children missing after a plane crash have been found alive, President Gustavo Petro announced 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 aircraft they were traveling in crashed due to a mechanical failure.
Led by the military, the search efforts found the bodies of three who died in the accident, including the pilot and the mother of the four brothers from the Huitoto ethnic group.
More than 100 soldiers with sniffer dogs followed the trail of the minors and walked through the jungle between the southern departments of Guaviare and Caquetá.
During the rescue operations, soldiers had found an improvised "shelter made with sticks and branches", for which they suspected that there was at least one survivor.
They also found "bitten fruits of the jungle," Germán Camargo, director of Civil Defense in the Department of Meta, told AFP.
Gigantic trees up to 40 meters, wild animals, and heavy rain made the search difficult.
The Air Force joined "Operation Hope" with three helicopters that flew over the dense jungle for days.
One of them carried a speaker "capable of covering an area of about 1,500 meters" with a message recorded by the children's grandmother. In the Huitoto language, told the children that they were looking for them and asked them not to continue advancing through the jungle.
According to the Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Huitotos live in "harmony" with the hostile conditions of the Amazon and preserve traditions such as hunting, fishing, and gathering wild fruits.