Teen who survived Colombian plane crash told family mom lived for 4 days

The plane that crashed in the Colombian Amazon on May 1.
(Image credit: Colombia's Armed Forces Press Office via AP, File)

Since being rescued on Friday, the oldest of four siblings who survived a plane crash in Colombia has shared with family some details about the 40 days they spent in the Amazon jungle.

The 13-year-old and her younger siblings — ages 9, 4, and 1 — were on a plane with their mother and two other adults on May 1 when the pilot reported engine failure and the aircraft dropped from the radar. Manuel Ranoque, father of the two youngest children, told reporters on Sunday that the oldest sibling said their mother initially survived the plane crash, and died about four days later.

An uncle told the outlet Noticias Caracol that one of the children said in order to avoid the snakes, mosquitoes and animals of the jungle, the kids hid in tree trunks, and a member of the search party that found them said they had bags containing clothes, a towel, two cellphones, a music box, a flashlight, and a soda bottle they used to collect water. The siblings are members of the Huitoto Indigenous group, and relatives and authorities believe they survived because they were familiar with rainforest fruit and had cassava flour and seeds to eat.

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The plane was discovered on May 16, and when the children were found, they were about three miles away from the crash site. The siblings are expected to spend the next two weeks in a military hospital receiving treatment.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.