Colombia President withdraws claim missing indigenous children found

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Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Thursday retracted his claim that four Indigenous children missing for more than two weeks after an airplane crash in the Amazon had been found alive.

Writing on Twitter, Petro said he had deleted his tweet from Wednesday night in which he had announced their rescue.

“I am sorry for what happened. The military forces and Indigenous communities will continue in their tireless search to give the country the news it is waiting for,” he added.

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The plane - a Cessna 206 - was carrying seven people on a route between Araracuara, in Amazonas province, and San Jose del Guaviare, a city in Guaviare province, when it issued a mayday alert due to engine failure in the early hours of May 1.

“After arduous searching by our military, we have found alive the four children who went missing after a plane crash in Guaviare. A joy for the country,” Petro had said in a message via Twitter on Wednesday.

Three adults, including the pilot, died as a result of the crash and their bodies were found inside the plane. The four children, aged 13, 9 and 4, as well as an 11-month-old baby, survived the impact.

Rescuers, supported by search dogs, had previously found discarded fruit the children ate to survive, as well as improvised shelters made with jungle vegetation.

Airplanes and helicopters from both Colombia’s army and air force participated in the rescue operations.

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