Headlines are calling it a real-life miracle. According to the Washington Post, four children, who survived a plane crash in Columbia’s Amazon jungle, have been found.
The youth used skills they learned in the Huitoto Indigenous group to find food and take care of themselves after the accident.
On Saturday (June 10), Colombian Defense Minister Iván Velásquez Gómez said the siblings—aged 13, 9, 4, and 1—were rescued and taken to the Central Military Hospital of Bogotá, after spending 40 days alone in the wild.
The crash is believed to have happened sometime around May 1 when the craft went missing on the flight tracking system. Their mother, the pilot and two other adults were killed.
Reuters reports the father of two of the children disputes what the Post reported, saying the children’s mother had survived for four days after the crash. Authorities suggest the children’s lives were spared because they were seated in the back of the plane when the small craft took a nosedive into the jungle floor. One of the children’s uncles, Fidencio Valencia, told reporters the children ate cassava flour known as farina from the plane as a primary source of nourishment.
“When the plane crashed, they took out a fariña, and with that, they survived. After the fariña ran out, they began to eat seeds,” Valencia said.
They were rescued by a team set up by the government weeks ago. The search for the young people, according to The Associated Press, was assisted by dogs that through finding clues like a baby bottle, fruit with human teeth in them, and footprints, they were able to find the four.
But that’s not all that saved them.
The Organization of the Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon took to social media, stating the kids being able to sustain themselves was “a sign of the knowledge and relationship with the natural environment of life, which is taught and learned from the mother’s womb and is practiced from a very early age.”
Carlos Peres, a professor of tropical forest ecology at the University of East Anglia in England, echoed those kids had an advantage because they were raised by their traditional ways.
“Four Western kids of the same age would have died there,” Peres said.
President Gustavo Petro said this ordeal is an “example of survival” that “will remain in history.”
“The jungle saved them” Petro continued. “They are children of the jungle, and now they are also children of Colombia.”
While the president is calling them heroes, the father of two of the youngest said his children will tell their own stories.
“They will tell their stories and you will hear them,” Manuel Ranoque, the father of the 1-year-old and 5-year-old, said, adding, “It’s not easy to ask them because the children went 40 days without eating well, so I have not been able to get information from the oldest child.”