Photo taken June 9, 2023, showing Manuel Ranoque (2nd from left), the father of two of the four children rescued after spendig 40 days in the Colombian jungle after a plane crash, upon the arrival of him and the children at the CATAM Military Airport in Bogota. EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda

Kids waited for help by crashed plane with dying mother for 4 days

Bogota, June 12 (EFE).- The four indigenous children rescued in the Amazon jungles of Colombia after being missing for 40 days after a plane crash waited with their badly injured mother near the plane for four days for help to arrive but upon seeing that nobody was coming to rescue them, and after their mother’s death, they began trekking through the jungle trying to get to civilization, one of their grandparents said Monday.

Photo provided on June 9, 2023, by the Colombian armed forces showing soldiers and indigenous volunteers attending to the four children who survived a May 1 plane crash and then were missing in the Colombian jungle for 40 days until rescuers located them. EFE/Colombian Armed Forces

“They remained around the plane for four days waiting to see if someone would come to get them,” said Narciso Mucutuy, the children’s grandfather, who added that since nobody came they began walking “along jungle paths toward the mountain.”

In remarks released by the Colombian Defense Ministry, Mucutuy said that the oldest of the kids, Lesly, told him that after their mother died and they left the crash site they had walked aimlessly and every night were leaving tracks or other items they had with them at the spots where they had slept, just in case anyone was looking for them.

Lesly, 13, has been praised as the heroine of the saga of human survival since with her knowledge of the jungle she took care of her siblings – Soleiny Mucutuy, 9; Tien Noriel Ranoque Mucutuy, 5; and Cristin Neruman Ranoque, 1 – for 40 days until rescuers finally located them.

She also told her grandfather that they survived during their first days in the jngle by eating “fariña,” a flour prepared from cassava that is a traditional food consumed by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region.

After the crash, and seeing that nobody was arriving to rescue them, Lesly took the fariña from the suitcase of one of the three adults who had been on board the Cessna 206 with them and perished in the May 1 crash in the jungle on the border of Caqueta and Guaviare provinces, Mucutuy said at the Central Military Hospital in Bogota, where the kids are recovering from their ordeal.

The three adults who died in – or shortly after – the crash were the children’s mother, the pilot and a local indigenous leader.

According to what Manuel Ranoque, the father of the two younger children, said on Sunday, Lesly told him that their mother “was alive for four days” after the crash and just before dying told the children to “leave” the crash site and seek help.

The four kids were found on Friday at a remote spot in the jungle where some 200 Colombian troops, including Special Forces personnel, as well as indigenous volunteers had been tirelessly searching for them for weeks in “Operation Hope.”

After the rescue, the children were taken by Colombian air force helicopter to San Jose del Guaviare, the capital of Guaviare province, where a C-295 aircraft configured like an air ambulance picked them up and took them to Bogota.

The grandfather said that Lesly “gave (the baby) a little bit (of the milk from the baby bottle) until it ran out” and then gave the child only water to drink. They left the baby bottle at a spot along their route.

“By the time they were found, (Lesly) said she couldn’t walk anymore. She was already very … very tired. So they huddled together in one place … She had the (baby) between her legs when they found them,” Mucutuy said.

As details continue to emerge about how the children survived in the jungle for 40 days, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBR) will keep them in its custody until the maternal grandparents and Manuel Ranoque – who on Sunday asked that the four kids be allowed to come and live with him in Bogota – have determined who will care for and raise the kids. EFE