Four Colombian children missing for 40 days after Amazon plane crash found alive

The four children have been hailed as an 'example of survival', after they were located alive by Colombia's military. Sally Biddulph reports

Colombian soldiers have found four indigenous children alive 40 days after the plane they were travelling in crashed into the Amazon rainforest.

The announcement of their rescue on Friday brought an end to a frantic search mission, which had captivated many Colombians.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro celebrated the news upon returning from Cuba, where he had signed a cease-fire with representatives of the National Liberation Army rebel group.

He confirmed that the four children, who are all siblings, had been brought to the country's capital, Bogota, to undergo medical checks.

The plane carrying the children crashed at the start of May. Credit: AP

President Petro said: "The jungle saved them. They are children of the jungle, and now they are also children of Colombia."

An air force video showed a helicopter using lines to winch the boys to safety from the thick coverage of rainforest.

No details were released on how the children - the oldest of which is 13 - managed to survive on their own for so long, although they belong to the Huitoto indigenous group that lives in the remote region of Colombia.

President Petro called them an "example of survival" and predicted their saga "will remain in history".

Watch the moment soldiers winched the children to safety from the floor of the Amazon rainforest

Images of a group of soldiers and volunteers posing with the children, who were wrapped in thermal blankets, was shared by the Colombian military.

Officials did not say how far the children were from the crash site when they were found, but the teams had been searching within a near three mile radius from the crash site.

The crash, which took place in the early hours of May 1, left three adults - including the children's mother - dead, after an engine failure problem with the aircraft.

Some two weeks after the crash, a search team found the plane and recovered the bodies of the adults, but the children were nowhere to be found.

Colombia's military then flew in 150 military personnel with search dogs in the hope of finding them alive.

During the search, soldiers dropped boxes of food into the jungle, hoping that it would help sustain the children, while planes flying over the jungle fired flares to help search crews on the ground at night.

Rescuers also used speakers to play a message, which was recorded by the siblings' grandmother, telling them to stay in one place.

Late in May, President Petro tweeted that the children had been found safe, before deleting the message. He later claimed had been misinformed by a government agency.

As the search progressed, soldiers discovered small clues in the jungle that led them to believe the children were still alive, including a pair of footprints, a baby bottle, nappies and pieces of fruit, which looked like it had been bitten by humans.

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