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Search for missing children after jungle plane crash intensifies thanks to new evidence

Colombian authorities announced the discovery of footprints in the southern jungles that they believe could help finally locate four indigenous children who went missing after their plane crashed a month ago.

“We have a 100% expectation of finding them alive,” Gen. Pedro Sánchez, commander of the Joint Command of Special Operations, told The Associated Press. He admitted that the search is extremely difficult work, not like finding a needle in a haystack but “like finding a tiny flea in a huge rug that moves in unpredictable directions.”

Members of Colombia’s special forces and dozens of indigenous people from the area have expanded the search through the jungle in the Colombia Amazon. 

Searchers believe the footprints belong to the oldest child, a 13-year-old girl, and it may indicate the children, who are of the Huitoto indigenous people, are trying to find their way out of the jungle. 

The jungle also contains myriad wild animals, including jaguars, poisonous snakes and disease-carrying mosquitos. The Huitoto practice knowledge of fruits and jungle survival skills, which may have improved the children’s chances of survival, according to the BBC. 

HAUNTING LAST WORDS SHOUTED TO BATON ROUGE TEEN AFTER HE WENT OVERBOARD AND VANISHED

Jungle search children

A soldier stands in front of the wreckage of a Cessna C206, May 18, 2023, that crashed in the jungle of Solano in the Caqueta state of Colombia. The discovery of footprints on May 30 of a small foot rekindled the hope of finding the children alive after their plane crashed on May 1. Soldiers found the wreckage and the bodies of three adults, including the pilot and the children’s mother. (Colombia’s Armed Forces Press Office via AP, File)

The crash occurred on May 1 during a flight from the southern town of Araracuara to the northern part of the country. The pilot reported engine failure and declared an emergency before crashing into the jungle. 

Special forces search

General Pedro Sanchez, the commander of the joint command of special operations of the military forces, welcomes Indigenous people the airport in San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia, Sunday, May 21, 2023, after they arrived to help in the search of four Indigenous children who are missing after a deadly plane crash. The May 30 discovery of footprints of a small foot rekindled the hope of finding the children alive after their plane crashed on May 1. Soldiers found the wreckage and the bodies of three adults, including the pilot and the children’s mother. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

President Petro said finding the children is a priority, and Sánchez added no deadline has been set for wrapping up the search.

Sánchez suggested that if the children had died, animals would be drawn to the remains and would have helped searchers find them. 

The searchers have found a bottle, some towels, used diapers, scissors and footprints in places relatively close to the plane crash. The military deployed helicopters that played recordings of the children’s grandmother to try and reach the children and draw them to the search parties, but the rain may have drowned out the sounds, Sánchez said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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