Keys to This Jungle Miracle: Flour, Seeds, a Savvy Girl

Details emerge on how 4 siblings survived 40 days in the Amazon jungle
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2023 9:00 AM CDT
Details Emerge on 4 Kids' 'Miracle' Survival in Jungle
Colombia President Gustavo Petro greets a nurse tending to one of the four children who survived an Amazon plane crash at a military hospital in Bogota, Colombia, Saturday, June 10, 2023.   (Colombia's Press Office via AP)

"Miracle, miracle, miracle" is how a Colombian general involved in the search for four missing siblings described their survival over 40 days in the Amazon jungle. The Indigenous children, ages 1 to 13, were found Friday by searchers hunting for them ever since their small plane crashed on May 1, killing their mother and two pilots. So how did they survive? Three factors helped: flour from the plane wreckage, fruit and seeds from the jungle, and having an extraordinarily capable 13-year-old leading them.

  • The children's grandfather told reporters they found cassava flour, or farina, in the wreckage, reports the Guardian. “After the farina ran out, they began to eat seeds,” said Fidencio Valencia.
  • “There’s a fruit, similar to passionfruit, called avichure,” said Edwin Paki, an Indigenous leader who helped in the search. “They were looking for seeds to eat from an avichure tree about a (mile and a half) from the site of the plane crash.” A key factor in their favor: "The jungle was in harvest," says the head of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare.

  • The children are dehydrated and have "nutritional deficiencies," but appear to have no major injuries, per the BBC. "In general the children, the boy and the girls are in an acceptable state ... (and) they are out of danger," says defense minister Ivan Velasquez, who credited 13-year-old Lesly for keeping them alive. "It is thanks to her, her value and her leadership, that the three others were able to survive, with her care, her knowledge of the jungle."
  • Their grandmother, Fatima Valencia, told reporters the eldest girl was used to looking after her younger siblings while their mother worked. The baby turned 1 in the jungle and another sibling turned 5, per the BBC. The other sibling is 9 years old.
(More plane crash stories.)

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