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How children survived 40 days lost in the Amazon

BY Alice Gawthrop

25th Sep 2023 Inspire

1 min read

How children survived 40 days lost in the Amazon
Four Colombian children survived a plane crash only to be lost deep in the Amazon rainforest for well over a month. This is how they survived this horrifying situation
It’s most people’s nightmare: surviving a plane crash only to be stranded in a jungle with no way of contacting the outside world. But this was reality for four Colombian children, and in an incredible story of resilience, they survived.

The crash

The children, aged 13, nine and four, as well as an 11-month-old baby, were flying with their mother from their village in the Amazon to visit their father in San José del Guaviare. The single-engine Cessna on which they were flying experienced engine problems and disappeared on May 1, 2023.
Bad weather prevented the army from finding the crash site for two weeks, where they then found the dead bodies of three adults, including the children’s mother.

Children raised in the jungle

How did these children survive conditions that would be an unimaginable struggle for most adults? They are members of the Huitoto Indigenous group and were raised in the jungle. As such, they have an intimate understanding of the rainforest. They know which fruits are safe to eat and which plants should be avoided.
"They survived off of juan soco (a fruit similar to passion fruit) and seeds"
Working with, rather than against, the Amazon, they survived off of juan soco (a fruit similar to passion fruit) and seeds, while feeding the baby water mixed with yucca flour that they found on the plane.

Search team success

Trees and river in the Amazon rainforest
While the children got on with the business of surviving, the Colombian army worked with Indigenous volunteers to find them.
After 40 days of searching, the children were found and taken to recover at a military hospital in Bogota.

Knowledge of the Amazon rainforest

While many around the world have taken this survival story to be a miracle, others point out that it is the result of an ancient and intimate knowledge of the rainforest that has been passed down through Indigenous communities over the generations. 
"Indigenous tribes have a close relationship to the Amazon, marked by a deep respect for the forest"
Indigenous tribes have a close relationship to the Amazon, marked by a deep respect for the forest that provides them with shelter and sustenance. It is their close connection to and understanding of the rainforest that undoubtedly helped the children to survive.
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