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Lost Colombian Children Survived In Forest, Thanks To Their Upbringing

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Lost Colombian Children Survived In Forest, Thanks To Their Upbringing

After more than a month of being lost in the Colombian Amazon rainforest where the plane they were in crashed, four indigenous children were finally reunited with their relatives on Saturday. As more information continues to trickle in about the gripping tale, it has been revealed that the children’s familiarity with forest produce could have helped a great deal in their survival. 

The four children, who are siblings, survived on cassava flour and seeds, their uncle Fidencio Valencia has revealed. As per a report by The Guardian, “When the plane crashed, they took out [of the wreckage] a farina [cassava flour], and with that, they survived,” Mr Valencia said from the hospital in Bogota where the children have been shifted after being rescued.

The children – aged 13, nine, five, and one – are members of the Huitoto indigenous group and were lost in the jungle since May 1. The Cessna 206 in which they were travelling crashed and claimed the lives of the children’s mother, the plane’s pilot, and a local indigenous leader. As per a report by AFP, the pilot had reported engine problems while en route from Araracuara to San Jose del Guaviare, a journey of approximately 350 kilometers (217 miles).

While the remains of the crash victims were discovered on May 16, the children were found only after a 40-day extensive rescue operation involving sniffer dogs, helicopters, and aircraft in an area inhabited by predators such as jaguars and snakes, as well as armed drug trafficking groups. The extensive search effort involved 160 soldiers and 70 indigenous individuals with deep knowledge of the jungle.

Colombian Defence Minister Ivan Velasquez, who visited the children in the hospital with President Gustavo Petro, also threw light on how the children survived in the forest without any food readily available at their disposal. “They are children of the bush,” Mr Valencia stated, adding that initially, they sustained themselves by consuming a small amount of flour that was onboard the plane, followed by seeds. Astrid Cáceres, head of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, concurred and said that “the jungle was in harvest,” allowing the children to find and eat fruits. 

General Pedro Sanchez, who was in charge of the rescue effort, said, “The minors were already very weak. And surely their strength was only enough to breathe or reach a small fruit to feed themselves or drink a drop of water in the jungle.” As a result, the children are dehydrated and are receiving treatment for insect bites as well as mental health services. While explaining that the children are still unable to eat solid food yet, Mr Velásquez said that “in general, the condition of the children is acceptable.” The children are expected to remain in the hospital for a minimum of two weeks.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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