Against All Odds: Four Children Rescued After Surviving a Plane Crash and 40 Days on Their Own in the Colombian Jungle
On June 9, four Colombian children were rescued deep in the jungle 40 days after surviving a small plane crash on May 1 that killed all three adults onboard, including their mother.
The indigenous siblings — Lesly (13 years old), Soleiny (9), Tien (4), and Cristin Neriman (1) — were found in the rural area of Solano, Caquetá, by a group of Colombian soldiers and indigenous community members who had been searching relentlessly for weeks, covering more than 1,000 kilometers of thick Amazon bush in a rescue attempt that has gripped the nation.
While the children were malnourished, dehydrated, and covered in mosquito bites, they were said to be in stable condition and transported this weekend to a military hospital in Bogotá, where they are expected to remain and receive care for several weeks.
Photo: Rescuers tend to the four young children in the Amazon after the miraculous rescue. (Credit: Fuerzas Militares de Colombia)
The uniformed personnel reportedly yelled “miracle, miracle, miracle!” upon finally discovering the children before verifying their condition and beginning to provide them with food and water. Soon after, they requested a helicopter airlift transport to the rescue center of operations in San José del Guaviare, the nearest urban center, where they were evaluated and reunited with various family members before moving on to the Colombian capital for longer-term care.
The incredible rescue has brought profound joy to an entire nation that has been hoping and praying for the children to be found alive for more than a month since Colombian authorities started Operation Hope (Operación Esperanza) to find them.
Since the plane wreckage was initially found, optimism continued to increase as various signs of survival discovered, including footprints, a baby bottle, discarded diaper, pair of scissors, fruit husks, and evidence of a makeshift shelter. Each clue provided more hope and the scope of the rescue continued to grow, with Operation Hope including more than 120 military personnel and 73 indigenous volunteers overall, but the worst fears were hard to push aside as the days and weeks mounted.
This incredible demonstration of “total survival,” as President Gustavo Petro termed it, will be remembered forever in Colombian history, and more details are beginning to come to light, including their ability to survive on a bag of flour (farina) taken when they left the crash site along with their knowledge of which fruits to eat.
In local media interviews weeks earlier during the search, the children’s grandmother and aunt maintained hope in part because they that Lesly, the oldest sister, is smart, very knowledgable, and had been helping to care for her brothers and sisters since a young age.
The children may have also benefited from survival kits left by rescuers during Operation Hope that were left in strategic points for the children to find and consume as they looked for help.
In addition to the children’s mother, Magdalena Mucutuy, the crash killed pilot Hernando Murcia and Herman Mendoza, an indigenous leader.
Article by Juan Guevara