Four Indigenous children were left stuck in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia for 40 days following the crash of their plane.

The children were found alive on Friday, June 9, bringing to an end a lengthy search effort during which rescuers had uncovered a continual stream of hints regarding their whereabouts.

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On May 1, an Avianline Charters-operated Cessna 206 took off from the Araracuara forest region in direction of San Jose del Guaviare, one of the major towns in the Colombian Amazon.

Magdalena Mucutui Valencia and her four children, who are 13 years old, 9 years old, 4 years old, and 11 months old, were also on board. The pilot was an indigenous leader from the Huitoto community.

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Minutes after starting the 350km flight over the jungle, the pilot reported engine problems and the plane disappeared from radar.

Soldiers in the Caqueta region discovered the bodies of the pilot and the two adults between May 15 and May 16. The plane’s nose was shattered, and it was stuck vertically in dense jungle.

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They failed to find the kids. More than 100 military personnel were deployed to the area, suspecting there was at least one survivor.

The search was joined by dozens of Indigenous people from nearby villages who are accustomed to travelling through the Amazon – home to jaguars, snakes and other predators, as well as armed drug smuggling groups. An air force helicopter also broadcast an audio recording of the children’s grandmother, urging them to stay put.

Soldiers discovered shoes and diapers three weeks after the collision, claiming to have passed the kids by within 100 meters. A 20 square kilometer area of jungle was left for the hunt.

On May 17, soldiers stumbled into an improvised shelter made of logs and branches. The dog also discovered hair ties and scissors.

On Jun 9, Petro announced that the children were found alive and released a photo showing them surrounded by soldiers and Indigenous people who participated in the search. The children appear thin and have no shoes.