BOGOTA (Reuters) – The fate of four children missing after a plane crash in southern Colombia was unclear on Thursday after President Gustavo Petro deleted a tweet saying they had been found alive and a new one Message added that reports of their discovery are unconfirmed and the search is ongoing.
The children have been missing since May 1, when the plane they were traveling on crashed in the dense jungle.
On Wednesday, Petro said in the now-deleted Twitter message that the children, aged 13, 9 and 4, and an 11-month-old baby, were found alive thanks to an arduous search by members of the armed forces.
“I decided to delete the tweet as it was not possible to confirm the information provided by the[Child Protection Agency],” he said, adding that the searches were still ongoing.
“I’m sorry it happened,” he said. “Right now there is no priority other than to continue searching until they are found. The life of the children is the most important thing.”
The plane — a Cessna 206 — was carrying seven people on a route between Araracuara, in Amazonas province, and San Jose del Guaviare, a town in Guaviare province, when it issued an emergency alert over an engine failure in the early hours of May 1.
Three adults, including the pilot, perished in the crash and their bodies were found on the plane.
Preliminary information from the Civil Aviation Authority, which coordinated the rescue effort, suggests the children escaped the plane and made their way to the rainforest to seek help.
Rescuers, assisted by search dogs, had found discarded fruit that the children ate to survive and improvised shelters made from jungle vegetation.
Planes and helicopters from the Colombian army and air force took part in the rescue operations.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Oliver Griffin, Text by Oliver Griffin and Alistair Bell)