Missing children found 17 days after plane crash in Amazon forest

The Colombian armed officials came across a shelter built with sticks and branches

amazon_plane_crash The trail leading to the children included a baby's feeding bottle, a hair tie, scissors and a half eaten piece of fruit | Colombian Army

Sniffer dogs and a crew of over 100 soldiers searched for them for 17 days in the Amazon rainforest in Colombia. Three children and a 11-month-old baby, who survived a crash were found in the Amazon forest in Colombia more than two weeks after the crash that killed the three adults they were flying with. 

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said in a tweet on Wednesday that the children were discovered after “arduous search efforts” by the military. “A joy for the country,” he said, Al Jazeera reported. The Colombian armed officials eventually came across an improvised shelter built with sticks and branches. This eventually led them to the surviving children. The kids are aged between 11 months and 13 years.

One of the pilots of the aircraft was told that the children were found and they “were being transported by boat down the river and that they were all alive”, Avianline Charters, owner of the crashed aircraft said.   

The aircraft was flying between Araracuara in Amazonas province and San Jose del Guaviare, a city in Guaviare province when it disappeared, BBC reported. Transport by small aeroplanes is common since the region has few roads and is also difficult to access by river. The trail leading to the children included a baby's feeding bottle, a hair tie, scissors and a half-eaten piece of fruit. According to reports, the children were all safe, though, a chance of thunderstorms in the region could hinder them from reaching safety. 

The Huitoto community develops skills in hunting, fishing and gathering, which may have helped the children to survive. Earlier in the week, the soldiers found wreckage of the aircraft and bodies of the three adults, who were in the aircraft. One of them has been identified as the mother of the children. The family are from the Huitoto people, an indigenous group in south-eastern Colombia and northern Peru, a BBC report reads. 

Apart from the soldiers who conducted the search on foot, military planes and helicopters were deployed for the search which was arduous due to the forest being situated in an extremely isolated location and trees that can grow as tall as 40 metres. 

One helicopter played out a recorded message from their grandmother in the Huitoto language telling the children to stop moving through the rainforest, AFP news agency reports. 

The cause of the crash is yet to be known. The pilot reportedly had problems with the engine minutes before the aircraft disappeared from radar systems. 

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