BOGOTA, Colombia — Four children who disappeared after a plane crash 40 days ago were found alive Friday, officials say.
Update 9:30 a.m. EDT June 11: President Gustavo Petro and family members as well as other officials met with the children Saturday at a hospital in Bogota, Colombia, according to The Associated Press.
Defense Minister Iván Velásquez told reporters, according to the AP, that children cannot eat food yet but are in the process of being rehydrated. They are expected to remain in the hospital for at least two weeks.
The AP reported that the children survived in the jungle on Cassava flour and some fruits that they were familiar with.
Original story: The children were alone when they were found, according to The Associated Press.
The crash happened on May 1 when a Cessna single-engine propeller plane had six passengers aboard. The pilot said that there was an emergency because of engine failure, according to the AP. Shortly after, the plane fell off the radar and a search for survivors started.
About two weeks after the crash on May 16, a search crew found the plane with three adults on board but no children, the AP reported.
The children are all siblings, the BBC reported. Their ages are 12 months, 4 years old, 9 years old, and 13 years old.
The children’s mother and two pilots were killed in the crash, according to the BBC.
The missing children became a huge focus of a rescue operation that included multiple soldiers and locals, the BBC reported.
“As the grandfather to my grandchildren who disappeared in the jungles of the Yari, at this moment I am very happy,” the children’s grandfather, Narcizo Mucutuy, said according to the BBC.
President Gustavo Petro said, according to the AP, that the youngsters are an “example of survival” and predicted their saga “will remain in history.”
Petro said Friday that he believed for a bit that the children were rescued by a nomadic tribe that roams in the jungle that has no contact with authorities, the AP reported. He also said that the children were found by rescue dogs that soldiers took into the jungle looking for them.
“The jungle saved them,” Petro said, per the AP. “They are children of the jungle, and now they are also children of Colombia.”
No information has been released about how the four children were able to survive on their own for so long, according to the AP.