Three children and a baby were reported to have been found alive more than two weeks after a plane crashed with them on board in the Colombian Amazon jungle.
Colombian authorities had deployed more than 100 soldiers with sniffer dogs to search for the children who were travelling in a plane that crashed in the Amazon 17 days ago, killing three adults.
Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said in a tweet on Wednesday that the children were discovered after “arduous search efforts” by the military. “A joy for the country,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Colombian armed forces said that search efforts intensified after rescuers came across a “shelter built in an improvised way with sticks and branches”, leading them to believe there were survivors. However, there were no reports from the Colombian military confirming the discovery of the children.
Colombia’s El Espectador news outlet reported later that the military had not confirmed finding the children, though information was reportedly received by a government agency that contact had been made.
Avianline Charters, owner of the crashed aircraft, said that one of its pilots in the search area was told the children had been found and that they “were being transported by boat down river and that they were all alive”.
However, the company also said that “there has been no official confirmation” that the children were completely out of danger, and thunderstorms in the area still posed a risk to them reaching safety.
In photographs released by the armed forces, scissors and a hair tie could be seen among branches on the jungle floor. Previously, a baby’s drinking bottle and a half-eaten piece of fruit had been found.
Rescuers believe the four children – aged 13, nine, four and an 11-month-old baby – wandered through the jungle in the southern Caqueta Department since the crash on May 1. (AlJazeera)