In Colombia, child survivors recover

The four indigenous children, rescued after 40 days of wandering in the Colombian jungle, continued to recover slowly in a hospital in Bogota on Sunday: they “speak little”, according to their relatives, but revealed that their mother had survived four days of plane crash before succumbing to his injuries.

“My daughter told me that her mother had been alive for four days,” Manuel Miller Ranoque Morales told the press, outside the military hospital in Bogota where his children are cared for.

A problem with the engine

Lesly (13), Soleiny (9), Tien Noriel (5) and Cristin (1) were found alive on Friday afternoon by rescuers as they wandered alone in the jungle since the May 1 crash of the little Cessna 206 plane on which they were traveling with their mother, the pilot and a relative. All three adults died in the crash. “Before dying, the mother said to them: ‘Go ahead, go'” to join your father, explained Manuel Miller Ranoque Morales.

The plane belonging to the company Avianline Charters had left an area of ​​jungle known as Araracuara to go to San José del Guaviare (south), one of the main cities of the Colombian Amazon, some 350 km , before disappearing from the radar. The pilot had just reported a problem with the engine.

The soldiers found him between May 15 and 16, vertically, his nose planted on the ground, in the middle of dense vegetation, the pilot dead in the cockpit. The indigenous chief and the mother of the family were also found dead, without the soldiers saying where exactly.

Music Box

“It is a miracle of God. We thank God who kept the children alive,” their father continued. “As indigenous people, we have shown the world what we are capable of. We found the plane, we found the children,” he said. “I am waiting for the children to recover (…). It’s not so easy to ask them questions” after what they have been through, he said again, pressed by a crowd of journalists.

“After going through such a tragedy, they need to regain their strength (…). We couldn’t really talk”, also commented the grandfather, Fidencio Valencia. “They play with the gifts (…) they are good, they are in good hands”. “We can’t give them too much food at the moment. This is all a process that will take time.”

” It is unfair “

The father also protested against the dissemination of photos of his children in their hospital room broadcast “on social networks”, “it’s unfair”, he said. Most of the photos released to date hide the children’s faces. Snapshots taken in the jungle, apparently just after the rescue, showing the extremely emaciated children, however, were published by online media on Sunday.

The Colombian press began giving details of their ordeal. The children were able to use on their journey a mosquito net, a towel, a minimum of camping equipment, two mobile phones (with rapidly depleted batteries), a flashlight and a small music Box.

“Every day, we said to ourselves: today we find them! »

After more than a month of fruitless search, the army was about to reduce its deployed assets. Despite their rations, the special forces commandos each lost between 3 and 10 kg, with exhausting daily hunts starting at 5:00 a.m. “Every day that started, we said to ourselves: today we find them! “, told one of these elite soldiers, quoted by a weekly.

The army today says it is continuing its search for a detection dog lost in the jungle. This six-year-old Malinois, now famous, whose name is displayed on the windows in Bogota, would have reappeared a hundred meters from the soldiers to flee almost immediately, according to this same weekly, considering his attitude “very strange, because such a trained dog never abandon his master”.

Historic stronghold of the FARC

The father of the children also returned to the threats at the origin of the departure by plane of the family from Guaviare. “I am threatened by the Carolina Ramirez Front” of FARC dissidence, he said without specifying the reasons for these threats. “I know that these unscrupulous people can start pressing again and I will never allow it. They said they were going to pick me up to Bogota (…) All they want is economic interest and as long as you don’t join them, you are an enemy,” he said. he accuses.

This whole Amazonian part of the south of the country is a historic stronghold of the FARC, which imposes a revolutionary “tax” there. The search for the children by the army was also a race against time to prevent this armed group, with which the government had just broken a fragile ceasefire, from getting their hands on the young survivors first. .

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