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Colombia plane crash: Mother told children to leave her and get help

Monday June 12, 2023

By Aoife Walsh

The mother of four children rescued after 40 days in the Amazon jungle was alive for four days after their plane crashed.


Soldiers attend to children who were rescued in the jungles of Caqueta, Colombia, on Friday. (Colombian Military Forces/Reuters)

Magdalena Mucutuy told her children to leave and find help as she lay dying.

Speaking to reporters, the children's father, Manuel Ranoque, said his eldest daughter told him their mother urged them to "get out" and save themselves.

The siblings, aged 13, nine, five, and one, were rescued and airlifted out of the jungle on Friday.

They were moved to a military hospital in the nation's capital Bogota.
"The one thing that [13-year-old Lesly] has cleared up for me is that, in fact, her mother was alive for four days," Mr Ranoque told reporters outside the hospital.

"Before she died, their mum told them something like, 'You guys get out of here. 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," he said.

Details have been emerging about the children's time in the jungle and their miraculous rescue - including the first things the children said when they were found.

Rescue worker Nicolas Ordonez Gomes recalled the moment they discovered the children.

"The eldest daughter, Lesly, with the little one in her arms, ran towards me. Lesly said: 'I'm hungry,'" he told public broadcast channel RTVC.

"One of the two boys was lying down. He got up and said to me: 'My mum is dead.'" He said rescuers responded with "positive words, saying that we were friends, that we were sent by the family".

Mr Ordonez Gomes said the boy replied: "I want some bread and sausage."

In footage released on Sunday of the children's rescue, the four siblings appeared to be emaciated from the weeks they spent fending for themselves in the wilderness.

Ms Mucutuy and her children had been travelling on the Cessna 206 aircraft to Araracuara, in Amazonas province, to San José del Guaviare, on 1 May when it issued a mayday alert due to engine failure.

Manuel Ranoque, father of the children rescued after 40 days in the Amazon jungle. REUTERS

The bodies of the mother and the two pilots were found at the crash site by the army, but it appeared that the children had wandered into the rainforest to find help.

The missing children became the focus of a huge rescue operation involving dozens of soldiers and local people.

Rescuers tracked the children down after spotting signs in the jungle, including footprints and fruit that had been bitten into.

Members of the children's community had hoped that their knowledge of fruits and jungle survival skills would give them a better chance of remaining alive.

Astrid Cáceres, head of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, said the timing of their ordeal meant the "the jungle was in harvest" and they could eat fruit that was in bloom.