(CNN) — The four children who have been missing for more than a month in Colombia, after the plane they were traveling on crashed in the department of Guaviare, were found alive and arrived this Saturday morning in Bogotá with an air ambulance, as can be see on Fightradar24 tracking site.
A joy for the whole country! The 4 children who disappeared 40 days ago in the Colombian jungle have appeared alive. pic.twitter.com/cvADdLbCpm
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) June 9, 2023
President Gustavo Petro confirmed news of the find on his social media on Friday. “A joy for the whole country! The 4 children who were lost 40 days ago in the Colombian jungle have appeared alive,” the president posted on his Twitter account, along with an image that appears to show search teams with the four children . .
The children, who appear emaciated in images released by the authorities, travel in a Colombian Air Force ambulance, accompanied by four doctors who are treating them, including a pediatrician and a neonatologist, according to the institution. The landing is scheduled at the Military Transport Air Command in Bogota.
Lesly Jacobombaire Mucutuy, 13; Soleiny Jacobombaire Mucutuy, 9 years old; Tien Ranoque Mucutuy, 4, and baby Cristin Ranoque Mucutuy were the only survivors of a plane crash on May 1.
His mother, Magdalena Mucutuy Valencia, died in the crash along with two other adult passengers: pilot Hernando Murcia Morales and Yarupari indigenous leader Herman Mendoza Hernández.
The children’s subsequent disappearance deep in the jungle prompted a massive military-led search operation, involving more than 100 Colombian Special Forces soldiers and more than 70 indigenous scouts combing the area.
For weeks, the search turned up only a few clues, including footprints, a dirty diaper and a bottle. Family members said the eldest daughter had some experience in the woods, but hopes faded as the weeks wore on.
“I’m an example of survival”
The Colombian presidency posted on his Twitter account, quoting Petrothat “indeed, the indigenous communities were looking for and the Military Forces found the children after 40 days in the jungle of #guaviare. I’m an example of survival.”
in the statements After At the announcement, Petro said the children were alone when they were found and that their “example of survival will go down in history.”
“They defended themselves. It’s learning about indigenous families, learning about life in the jungle that saved them,” Petro said.
Regarding the conditions of the children, Petro said they were receiving medical treatment in San José Guaviare, where the first visit would take place. “If the doctors recommend it, they will be taken to Bogotá or Villavicencio, it depends on what the doctors decide,” she explained at the outset.
Subsequently, Defense Minister Iván Velásquez indicated that this Saturday the minors would be transferred to the military hospital in Bogotá to continue their recovery.
For his part, the indigenous leader Lucho Acosta, coordinator of the indigenous scouts of the Colombian Amazon, also confirmed the discovery of the four children.
“On behalf of the soldiers, and of all the authorities of the territory… everyone has made a small effort to make this Operation Hope a success, and we hope that the children come out alive and stronger than before. We waited together with the strength of our ancestors and our strength prevailed,” she said.
The Colombian Ministry of Defense tweeted: “The joy is enormous, the gratitude to our Military Forces will be eternal. We never stopped looking for them until the miracle happened. #OperationHope”.
Also, the US Embassy in Colombia public on his Twitter account that “lThe four minors who survived the Guaviare plane crash are the light of life and the hope that illuminates Colombia. Thank you, @FuerzasMilColfor the heroic search and rescue mission in such difficult terrain and for bringing us this immense joy.”
“I want to hug my grandchildren,” the children’s grandmother says
María Fátima Valencia, grandmother of the four children found, expressed the desire to embrace them, after the news of their discovery became known.
“I will hug all four of them, I will thank them all,” he told the media from Villavicencio. He also stressed that he has recovered from the pain of losing his daughter in the accident “and now with the pain I’ve been through I will encourage them, I will carry them forward, I need them here, I want to hug my grandchildren, all four of them”. He insisted.
“I am very grateful to the military, to our elders, to everyone who participated. I am very grateful to my God, I hope he gives them strength” Valencia said.
The children’s grandfather, Fidencio Valencia, said they could not sleep as the children disappeared.
“For us this situation was like being in the dark, we walked for the sake of walking. Live to live because the hope of finding them has kept us alive. When we find children we feel joy, we don’t know what to do, but we are thankful to God,” she said.
The children’s other grandfather, Narcizo Mucutuy, said he wants his grandchildren to return to Villavicencio where his family is.
“I beg the president of Colombia to take our grandchildren to Villavicencio, here where their grandparents are, where their uncles and aunts are, and then take them to Bogotá,” he explained.
The hardships of the jungle where the children have disappeared
The story, which grabbed national and international headlines, kept the country on the alert as search efforts continued with few leads. In mid-May, authorities said there were indications the minors were alive and began leaving food kits in the jungle so they could find them.
The jungle where the children were looking for is between the departments of Guaviare and Caquetá, the border between the Amazon region in Colombia, a large area of jungle, and the eastern lowlands, sparsely populated areasdifficult to access and where historically there has been a presence of insurgent groups.
9.9% of the population of Guaviare is indigenousaccording to data from the National Administrative Department of Statistics, DANE.
A first observation that did not happen
On May 17, the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, tweeted that the children, aged 13, 9, 4 and one over 11 months, had been found alive. But then he deleted the tweet and the next day he pointed out that the information provided to him by the Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), which deals with child protection, had not been confirmed.
“I am sorry for what happened. The military forces and indigenous communities will continue in their tireless quest to give the country the news it has been waiting for,” the Colombian president said in that message.
What would have been an amazing survival story confused Colombians as government officials battled poor communication without direct contact with the children.
The director of the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF), Astrid Cáceres, said her team received second-hand confirmation that search teams had rescued and identified the children. She added that she was “very sure” the four children had been found, but she was awaiting further evidence.
With information from Mia Alberti, Mitchell McCluskey, Karol Suárez, Marlon Sorto and Hira Humayun.