Mother’s last words after plane crash in Colombia: ‘Go away

Adeyemi Adeyemi

Global Courant

Four children survive alone in the Amazon jungle for 40 days after their mother dies from her injuries.

The injured mother of four indigenous Huitoto children who survived a May 1 plane crash in Colombia told her children to “get out of here” before she died four days after the crash.

The children’s father, Manuel Miller Ranoque, said his 13-year-old daughter told him that the badly injured Magdalena Mucutuy died in the jungle with her children beside her.

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“Before she died, their mother said something like, ‘You guys get out of here. You are going to see what kind of man your father is, and he will show you the same great love I showed you,” Ranoque told media outside a Bogota hospital on Sunday.

Engine problems after takeoff

The children – ages 12, nine, five and one – had traveled with their mother in a Cessna 206, a single-engine light aircraft.

The pilot reported engine problems minutes after takeoff from an area known as Araracuara, deep in the Amazon.

The plane would travel 350 km (220 mi) to the city of San Jose del Guaviare.

The bodies of the pilot, the children’s mother and another adult were found at the crash site, where the plane came to rest almost vertically in the trees.

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‘My mother is dead’

The children had been missing in the Amazon for 40 days before they were rescued and lifted out of the jungle on Friday.

“I’m hungry” and “My mother is dead” were the first words the children uttered, members of the rescue group said in a televised interview on Sunday.

Members of the group that found the survivors, who are indigenous themselves, told of the first moments after meeting the children.

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“The eldest daughter, Lesly, with the little one in her arms, ran to me,” said Nicolas Ordonez Gomes, one of the search and rescue crew.

“Lesly said, ‘I’m hungry,'” he said. “One of the two boys was lying on the floor. He stood up and said to me, ‘My mother is dead.’”

Colombian soldiers provide medical aid in an airplane to the children who survived a Cessna 206 plane crash in the dense Amazon jungle in early May (Colombian Air Force/Handout via Reuters)

In a video released Sunday showing the children shortly after being found, they appear emaciated from their time spent in the wilderness.

The youngest two children spent their birthdays in the jungle while Lesly guided them through the ordeal.

Indigenous knowledge systems vital in saving children

It was in part the local knowledge of the children and indigenous adults involved in the search with Colombian soldiers that the survivors were found alive despite the threat of jaguars and snakes and relentless rains that may have prevented them from hearing calls from search parties.

The area is also home to armed groups of drug smugglers.

The children ate seeds, fruits, roots and plants they identified as edible from their upbringing in the Amazon, said Luis Acosta of Colombia’s National Indigenous Organization.

“The survival of the children is a sign of the knowledge and relationship with the natural environment that is learned from the womb,” Acosta said.

Colombian army helps four children who survived 40 days alone in the Amazon jungle (Colombian Military Forces/Anadolu Agency)

General Pedro Sanchez, who led the search operation, credited the indigenous people involved in the rescue for finding the children.

He praised the success as a “meeting of indigenous and military knowledge” that had demonstrated a “different path to a new Colombia”.

Army chief Helder Giraldo said rescuers had traveled more than 2,600 km (1,650 mi) to locate the children.

“Something that seemed impossible has been achieved,” Giraldo said on Twitter.

Mother’s last words after plane crash in Colombia: ‘Go away

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