A mother of four young children has displayed incredible bravery and sacrifice after enduring a plane crash in the Amazon jungle. Although she survived the accident, Magdalena Mucutuy sustained severe injuries and selflessly urged her children to leave her behind and seek help. According to Manuel Ranoque, the children’s father, their mother managed to stay alive for four days after the crash.
Recognizing that her own chances of survival were slim, Magdalena knew that her children had a better chance if they left the wreckage to search for food, water, and assistance. In her final moments, she told them, “Maybe you should go. You guys are going to see the kind of man your dad is, and he’s going to show you the same kind of great love that I have shown you.”
The children, aged 13, 9, 4, and 11 months, eventually summoned the courage to leave, embarking on an extraordinary 40-day journey of survival. They sustained themselves by consuming cassava flour from the wreckage, as well as seeds and fruits they discovered in the surrounding area. Unfortunately, their mother and two other adults did not survive the crash.
On Friday, the children were found by a military rescue dog, along with members of the military and local indigenous groups. As details of their ordeal emerged, it became known that helicopters had dropped food supplies while conducting aerial searches, and rescuers with dogs had combed the region in search of the children. However, these efforts actually frightened the young survivors, prompting them to hide and evade detection.
According to their great-uncle, Fidenxio Valencia, the children were afraid due to the presence of barking dogs. Consequently, they sought refuge among the trees and constantly evaded the search teams. Recordings of their grandmother’s voice, played through loudspeakers by the rescue crews, also failed to coax them out of hiding.
Lesly, the eldest of the children, is credited with leading her siblings to safety and keeping them alive by utilizing her knowledge of the Amazon’s flora and fauna, including identifying the poisonous varieties of fruit.
General Pedro Sanchez, who spearheaded the rescue operation, revealed that the four emaciated children were discovered in a clearing approximately three miles from the crash site nearly six weeks later. They were extremely weak and only had enough strength to breathe, find small fruits, or drink drops of water in the jungle.
Officials noted that the children managed to sustain themselves by taking advantage of the abundant harvest and lush fruit available in the jungle. Their survival drew widespread celebration, with Colombian pop icon Shakira among those expressing joy and admiration for their resilience.
Members of the Huitoto Indigenous community, the children and their mother were flying from the village of Ararcuara to San Jose del Guaviare when the plane experienced engine failure, hurtling into the dark depths of the jungle. The wreckage and the bodies of the adults were discovered on May 16, but the whereabouts of the children remained unknown.
Colombia’s military promptly dispatched 150 soldiers into the jungle to locate the missing children. Clues suggesting their survival, such as footprints, a baby bottle, and diapers, were found amidst the dense foliage.
Ultimately, it was Wilson, a trained rescue dog, who managed to locate the exhausted children on Friday. Colombian President Gustavo Petro acknowledged that the jungle had saved them, declaring them not only “children of the jungle” but also “children of Colombia.”