Four children who were missing for more than five weeks following a deadly plane crash have been rescued.
The group had been lost in a jungle in the south of Colombia, with initial reports conflicting as to if they had been found.
A number of clues, including a footprint, eventually led rescuers to the children.
They have now arrived in the capital Bogota early on Saturday for medical treatment.
The siblings were found on Friday in Colombia’s Caqueta province according to the country’s armed forces and were initially treated by military medics who had been among the search teams searching for them.
The mission to find the four siblings, called Operation Hope, captured the imagination of Colombians as reports of clues to their whereabouts fuelled longing they would be found safely despite spending more than a month in the inhospitable jungle.
General Pedro Sanchez, commander of the military’s joint command for special operations said at an air base in Bogota, said: ‘We did everything necessary to make the impossible possible, using satellites, using aircraft that launched messages, that launched food, that launched flyers, that launched hope.’
In photos shared by Colombia’s military, the four children – three girls and a boy – appeared gaunt as they were being cared for by rescuers.
After the plane carrying the children landed in Bogota, four ambulances were waiting at to collect them and take them to a military hospital for specialist medical care.
They had been missing in the jungle since a Cessna 206 carrying seven people on a route between Araracuara, in Caqueta, and San Jose del Guaviare, a city in Guaviare province, issued a mayday alert due to engine failure in the early hours of May 1.
Three adults, including the pilot and the children’s mother, died in the crash and their bodies were found inside the plane.
The siblings, aged 13, 9, 4, as well as a now 12-month-old baby, survived the impact.
One of the dead passengers, Ranoque Mucutuy, was the mother of the four children, who are of the indigenous Huitoto ethnicity.
The thick rainforest and extremely isolated location of the crash hampered search efforts, with military planes and helicopters assisting the search teams on the ground.
One helicopter played out a recorded message from their grandmother in the Huitoto language telling the children to stop moving through the rainforest.
Two weeks after the crash, on May 16, a search team found the plane in a thick patch of the rainforest and recovered the bodies of the adults, but the small children were nowhere to be found.
Sensing that they could be alive, Colombia’s army stepped up the hunt for the children and flew 150 soldiers with dogs into the area to track the group of four siblings, ages 13, nine, four and 11 months. Dozens of volunteers from indigenous tribes also helped search.
During the search, in an area where visibility is greatly limited by mist and thick foliage, soldiers on helicopters dropped boxes of food into the jungle, hoping that it would help sustain the children.
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