More than a month after a plane crashed in Colombia’s Amazon jungle, four children were found alive, the president of the country said.
The infant brothers, aged 13, 9, 4 and 1, were on board the plane when it crashed on May 1, along with their mother, pilot and co-pilot.
Their mother and other adults on the plane died.
President Gustavo Petro said it was “the joy of the whole country” that the children had been found after weeks of searching.
He called the day a “magic day” and said, “They were lonely, but they themselves achieved an example of perfect survival that will go down in history.
“Today, these children are children of peace, children of Colombia.”
Petro shared a photo of several members of the military and indigenous communities caring for their brothers who had been missing for 40 days.
The children are now being treated by a doctor, and he said he had spoken to his grandfather and was told that “Mother Jungle gave them back”.
The Cessna 206 plane carrying the children and their mother was flying from Araraquara, Amazonas, to San Jose del Guaviare, when a May Day warning was issued due to an engine failure.
The bodies of the three adults who were with them were found at the crash site by the military.
Preliminary information from civil aviation authorities said the children escaped the wreckage and wandered into the rainforest to seek help, Reuters reported.
A large-scale search began, and in May rescuers recovered items left behind by the children, including water bottles, scissors, hair ties and temporary shelters.
Small footprints were also found, leading the search team to believe they had survived the crash and were living in a rainforest home to jaguars, snakes and other predators.
The children belonged to the indigenous Hoitoto people, and community members hoped their knowledge of fruit and jungle survival skills would increase their chances of survival.
Indigenous people also joined the search effort, with helicopters recording messages in Hoitot from the children’s grandmothers and broadcasting messages urging them to stop moving so they would be easier to find.
The Colombian president came under fire last month when he announced that he had tweeted on his account that the children had been found.
He deleted the tweet the next day and said he could not verify the information provided to his office by the Colombian Department of Child Welfare.