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In what can only be described as a miracle, four children from an indigenous community in Colombia were rescued after being stranded in the Amazon rainforest for 40 days. On May 1, 2023, 13-year-old Lesly, nine-year-old Soleiny, four-year-old Tien Norie and 11-month old Cristin, were flying with their mother to the town of San José del Guaviare. Midway through the journey, their small airplane suffered an engine failure and crashed in a remote part of the Colombian Amazon jungle.
Due to bad weather, the Colombian army could not get to the crash site until May 16, 2023. When they arrived, they found the bodies of the mother, the pilot, and another adult. However, the four children were missing. The only clues of their presence were a baby bottle, some small shoes, and tiny footprints near the wreckage.
The kids, who belong to the Huitoto tribe, had been taught the skills to survive in the jungle. This gave the rescue team, comprising 150 military personnel and members of local indigenous groups, hope that the four may still be alive.
On June 9, 2023, 40 days after the plane crashed, an indigenous rescue team finally found the children. They were huddled together just three miles (4.8 km) away from the crash site. It was later discovered that Colombian soldiers had come close to the children several times. But the kids, scared by their presence, had hid each time they heard them.
Officials credit the kids' survival to Lesly. The resourceful 13-year-old used her extensive knowledge of the jungle to seek out edible fruits to feed her siblings. She fed her 11-month-old sister a mixture of water and cassava flour they had brought on the plane. The kids also found a box of food air-dropped by the army. At night, the four sought refuge under a mosquito net and plastic tarp retrieved from the plane.
Though still frail and shaken from the ordeal, all four children are expected to fully recover. Not surprisingly, their remarkable tale of survival has attracted global interest and made them national celebrities in Colombia.
Resources: Guardian.com, NPR.com, CNN.com, NBCnews.com