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Details emerge in survival of 4 kids

Their mother said to survived 4 days after plane crashed in Colombian jungle by MARKO ALVAREZ The Associated Press | June 12, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
In this handout photo released by the Colombian Presidential Press Office, Colombia's President Gustavo Petro greets a nurse tending to one of the four Indigenous children who survived an Amazon plane crash that killed three adults and then braved the jungle for 40 days before being found alive, at a military hospital in Bogota, Colombia, Saturday, June 10, 2023. (Colombia's Press Office via AP)

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The four Indigenous children who survived 40 days in the Amazon jungle after their plane crashed were recovering Sunday in a military hospital in Colombia, as new details of their harrowing story emerged in a country still mesmerized by their saga.

The children, ages 13, 9 and 4 years and 11 months, are expected to remain for at least two weeks in a hospital receiving treatment after their rescue Friday, but some are already speaking and wanting to do more than lying on a bed, according to family members.

Manuel Ranoque, father of the two youngest children, told reporters outside the hospital Sunday that the oldest of the four surviving children -- 13-year-old Lesly Jacobombaire Mucutuy -- told him their mother was alive for about four days after the plane crashed May 1 in the Colombian jungle.

Ranoque said before she died, the mother likely would have told them: "go away," apparently asking them to leave the wreckage site to survive. He provided no more details.

Fidencio Valencia, a child's uncle, told media outlet Noticias Caracol that the children were starting to talk and one of them said they hid in tree trunks to protect themselves in a jungle area filled with snakes, animals and mosquitoes. He said they were exhausted.

"They at least are already eating, a little, but they are eating," he said after visiting them at the military hospital in Bogota, Colombia. A day earlier, Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez had said the children were being rehydrated and couldn't eat food yet.

The children were traveling with their mother from the Amazonian village of Araracuara to San Jose del Guaviare when the plane went down.

The Cessna single-engine propeller plane was carrying three adults and the four children when the pilot declared an emergency because of engine failure. The small aircraft disappeared from radar a short time later and a search for survivors began.

Dairo Juvenal Mucutuy, another uncle, told local media that one of children said he wanted to start walking.

"Uncle, I want shoes, I want to walk, but my feet hurt," Mucutuy said the child told him.

"The only thing that I told the kid (was), 'when you recover, we will play soccer,'" he said.

Authorities and family members have said the children survived eating cassava flour and seeds, and that some familiarity with the rainforest's fruits were also key to their survival. The kids are members of the Huitoto Indigenous group.

An air force video released Friday showed a helicopter using lines to pull the youngsters up because it couldn't land in the dense rainforest where they were found. The military on Friday tweeted pictures showing a group of soldiers and volunteers posing with the children, who were wrapped in thermal blankets. One of the soldiers held a bottle to the smallest child's lips.

Ranoque said the rescue shows how as an "Indigenous population, we are trained to search" in the middle of the jungle.

"We proved the world that we found the plane ... we found the children," he added.

Print Headline: Details emerge in survival of 4 kids


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