A missing mother and her three children have been rescued after more than a month in the Amazon jungle.
The family were discovered by an indigenous tribe with skeletal bodies, with all four said to be suffering severe malnutrition and dehydration.
The children, aged 10, 12 and 14, were all found with a parasitic infestation where maggots had begun growing in their skin.
Witnesses said that one of the children had ‘worms the size of a coin’ growing from his head, El Tiempo reports.
María Pérez, 40, and her husband of Puerto Leguízamo, Colombia, had been on holiday with their children in the rural area known as La Esperanza, bordering Peru.
It is understood that María and the children got lost in the jungle at some point during the trip – with reports suggesting they were heading home after leaving María’s husband at a rural farm where he worked.
The family were reported missing on December 19, days after María had said goodbye to her husband, when news reached him that they had not returned home.
The man – who has not been named – heard no news of his missing family until a post on social media from the indigenous Secoya community in Peru said that four people had been found in their territory.
A picture posted alongside the message showed the family lying on the ground, clearly starving and covered in cuts.
They had survived outside on nothing but wild fruit for more than 30 days.
According to local reports, both the Colombian National Navy and the Peruvian Navy joined the rescue operation, deploying a Hovercraft along the Putumayo River – a tributary of the Amazon River which connects Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
Eventually the Navy and medical team on board came across the La Esperanza riverside community in Peru where they found the mother with her three children.
They were said to be close to death.
Ana Rosa Ropero, deputy director at the María Angelines Hospital in Puerto Leguízamo where the family were taken, said they arrived with malnutrition, dehydration, fungal infections and cuts on their feet.
The children are now being treated for serious cases of cutaneous myiasis – a skin condition where fly larva burrow into the skin and later turn into maggots.
The larva can enter through cuts or insect bites and it is believed they may have entered the children’s skin through the open wounds on their bare feet as they walked through the jungle.
Health authorities said the mother was referred to the Putumayo Clinic of Puerto Asís, in the state capital and her children were transferred to the Pabón Neurovascular Clinic in Pasto, Nariño state, where they will receive specialized pediatric care.