4 Kids Stranded in Jungle Had Been Fleeing for Their Lives

According to the father of the two youngest, who says armed group threatened their safety
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2023 2:45 AM CDT
Updated Jun 14, 2023 6:38 AM CDT
Children Stranded in Jungle Had Been Fleeing for Their Lives
In this photo released by Colombia's Armed Forces Press Office, soldiers and Indigenous men pose for a photo with the four Indigenous children who were missing after a deadly plane crash, in the Solano jungle, Caqueta state, Colombia, Friday, June 9, 2023.   (Colombia's Armed Force Press Office via AP)

The four children who survived 40 days in the Amazon rainforest after their plane crashed in the Colombian jungle were fleeing their home region in southern Colombia at the time. That's according to Manuel Ranoque, the father of the two youngest children, who are ages 5 and 1, the New York Times reports. He says an armed group known for recruiting children by force had taken control of the region, and the family feared for their kids, all of whom are from the Huitoto Indigenous group. They were on the plane with their mother and two other adults, all of whom were killed (though their mother apparently survived a few days).

Meanwhile, a custody battle has broken out amongst the children's relatives, the Guardian reports. Ranoque is angling for custody against the children's maternal grandparents, who accuse Ranoque of being violent toward their daughter and say they should get custody. Asked about the allegations, Ranoque said that he and his wife fought "verbally, sometimes, yes. Physically, very little. We had more verbal fights." He is not the father of the two oldest children and has not been allowed to see them since their rescue, he says, though it's not clear why. Colombia's child protection agency will interview family members to determine who should get custody. (More Colombia stories.)

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