A cloth to make a shelter, a bottle to collect water and above all a deep knowledge of the laws of the jungle allowed the four children who were lost for 40 days in the Colombian jungle to survive.
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Here are five keys to understanding how Leslie (13), Solini (9), Tien Noriel (5) and Christine (1) managed to survive in the Amazon rainforest after the small plane they were traveling in crashed on May 1st. Their mother, a relative, and the pilot, all three died in the accident.
At first, they stayed near the wreckage, feeding on the cassava flour they found on board, General Pedro Sanchez, the head of search operations.
Then, “they ran out of supplies” and decided to look for a way out of the jungle, reported Henry Guerrero, one of the natives who was involved in the search with the army.
Before stepping off the plane, the kids bring a towel, a flashlight, two cell phones (with fast-draining batteries), a jukebox, and some clothes.
During their journey, they fed on “chontadoro (orange fruit) and wild mangoes (…) fruits of the jungle”, General Sanchez explained, describing their survival as a “miraculous”.
Luis Acosta, chief of indigenous rangers for the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), added that the children “were feeding on roots, seeds and plants that they identified and knew were edible.”
It is not clear at this point whether or not the children benefited from the food dropped by the helicopter in the forest.
The Ministry of Defense gave special recognition to Leslie, the eldest of the siblings: “We must acknowledge not only her courage, but also her talent as a leader. It was thanks to her that the three little ones were able to survive.”
The children’s grandfather said he was convinced during the search that his granddaughter had managed to get her siblings to safety. She is “very smart, very active, and strong,” he asserted, adding that the three oldest were “too strong to walk” in the woods.
The siblings belong to the Uitoto ethnic group, which has its origins in the Amazon region. “They are indigenous children who know the jungle very well. They know what they eat and what they don’t. They were able to survive thanks to that and their spiritual strength,” Luis Acosta, who was involved in the searches on behalf of ONIC, told AFP.
The natives were behind the discovery of the children, and the two youngest celebrated their birthday while they were wandering.
The four miners were found about five kilometers from the wreckage on Friday, as their strength began to wane. “The first thing they told us was that they were hungry,” Guerrero said, explaining that they had been in the same place for four days.
“They can’t take it anymore,” he said, explaining that they had built a temporary shelter using tarpaulins. and “they had a little towel on the floor.” He added that Tian Nuriel “was already very weak, and could no longer walk.”
Children were always, according to Henry Guerrero, near a stream. “They were filling a small soda bottle with water,” he said. “Nothing ever happened to them,” not a single animal attack or accidental injury. “They worked very well,” he said.
Pictures published in local media showed her to be very weak. General Carlos Rincon, a doctor at the military hospital in Bogotá where the children are recovering, said they were in “acceptable medical condition”.