Four Indigenous children who disappeared 40 days ago after surviving a plane crash in the Amazon jungle were found alive on Friday, ending an intense search that gripped the nation.

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said the four siblings, aged 13, 9, 4 and 11 months, were alone when searchers found them and are now receiving medical attention.

“The indigenous communities and military forces that had been searching together found the children 40 days later. They were alone and managed by themselves to set an example of survival that will go down in history,” Petro said.

The frantic search began on 1 May after a single-engine propeller plane carrying six passengers crashed after declaring an emergency due to an engine failure.

Two weeks after the crash, a search team found the plane in a thick patch of the rainforest and recovered the bodies of the three adults on board, but the small children were nowhere to be found.

The group of four children had been travelling with their mother from the Amazonian village of Araracuara to San Jose del Guaviare, a small city on the edge of the Amazon rainforest.

They are members of the Huitoto people, and officials said the oldest children in the group had some knowledge of how to survive in the rainforest.

150 soldiers from the Colombian army led the search efforts, supported by dozens of volunteers from indigenous tribes.

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