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Rescued child says mom survived 4 days after plane crash in Colombian jungle before dying

The child was travelling with their mother from the Amazonian village of Araracuara to San Jose del Guaviare when the plane went down.

4 children spent 40 days in jungle before rescue; expected to remain in hospital

A soldier stands near the wreckage of a plane in a jungle.

The four Indigenous children who survived 40 days in the Amazon jungle after their plane crashed have shared limited but harrowing details of their ordeal with their family, including that their mother survived the crash for days before she died.

The children, aged 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 on Friday, but some are already speaking and wanting to do more more than lying on a bed, according to family members.

Manuel Ranoque, father of the two youngest children, told reporters outside the hospital on 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 on 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.

A person wearing a face mask holds a cellphone to their ear as other around record them with microphones and cellphones.

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

Later, Valencia provided new details of the children's recovery two days after the rescue: "They have been drawing. Sometimes they need to let off steam." He said family members are not talking a lot with them to give them space and time to recover from the shock.

The children were travelling 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 due to engine failure. The small aircraft fell off the radar a short time later and a search for survivors began.

Soldiers pose for a photo with children with their faces blurred in a forest.

Dairo Juvenal Mucutuy, another uncle, told local media that one of the 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.

Massive search effort

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 children are members of the Huitoto Indigenous group.

After being rescued on Friday, they were transported in a helicopter to Bogota and then to the military hospital, where Colombian President Gustavo Petro, government and military officials, as well as family members, met with the children on Saturday.

An air force video released on Friday showed a helicopter using lines to pull up the youngsters because it couldn't land in the dense rainforest where they were found. The military on Friday posted photos on Twitter 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.

Adults wearing face masks stand around a child's hospital bed.

Gen. Pedro Sanchez, who was in charge of the rescue efforts, said that the children were found five kilometres away from the crash site in a small forest clearing. He said rescue teams had passed within 20 to 50 metres of where the children were found on a couple of occasions but had missed them.

Two weeks after the crash, on May 16, a search team found the plane in a thick patch of the rainforest and recovered the bodies of the three adults on board, but the small children were nowhere to be found.

Soldiers in helicopters dropped boxes of food into the jungle, hoping that it would help sustain the children. Planes flying over the area fired flares to help search crews on the ground at night, and rescuers used speakers that blasted a message recorded by the siblings' grandmother telling them to stay in one place.

WATCH | Children ate berries and flour to survive in forest:

Children rescued in Amazon reunite with family

5 hours ago

Duration 2:04

Four children rescued from the Amazon 40 days after their plane crashed have been reunited with family at a Colombia hospital. The children and their mother were en route to join the father of two of the children when the plane crashed.

Colombia's army sent 150 soldiers with dogs into the area, where mist and thick foliage greatly limited visibility. Dozens of volunteers from Indigenous tribes also joined the search.

Ranoque, the father of the youngest children, 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.

Soldiers sitting at a table watch on as one soldier points at a map on a TV screen.

Some Indigenous community members burned incense as part of a ceremony outside the Bogota military hospital on Sunday to give thanks for the rescue of the children.

Luis Acosta, co-ordinator of the Indigenous guard that was part of the search in the Amazon, said the children were found as part of what he called a "combination of ancestral wisdom and Western wisdom … between a military technique and a traditional technique."

The Colombian government, which is trying to end internal conflicts in the country, has highlighted the joint work of the military and Indigenous communities to find the children.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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