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15th Jun 2023

Relatives battle for custody of four children who survived 40 days in the Amazon rainforest

Colombia’s child protection agency is interviewing family members to determine who should care for them.

A custody battle has broken out among the relatives of the four Indigenous children who survived a plane crash and 40 days in the Amazon rainforest.

The Cessna 206 was carrying seven people 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 1st.

The children aged 13, 9, 4 and 1 were the only survivors of the plane crash.

It was reported that the children lived off eating cassava flour, seeds and fruits they found in the rainforest, which they were familiar with as members of the Huitoto Indigenous group.

Four children surviving in one of the most dangerous terrains on Earth avoiding dangerous animals, diseases, poisonous plants and having the ability to live off the land, is a true miracle.

However, unfortunately due to their mother Magdalena’s death, a custody battle has broken out among the children’s relatives.

It’s been reported that while the four children are recovering in hospital, Colombia’s child protection agency is interviewing family members to determine who should care for them.

The father of the two youngest children is battling to take custody of the four children but their maternal grandparents are fighting to take care of the children too.

The children’s father is under investigation.

As reported by the Irish Examiner, Astrid Caceres, head of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, said: “We are going to talk, investigate, learn a little about the situation.

“The most important thing at this moment is the children’s health, which is not only physical but also emotional, the way we accompany them emotionally.”

She said the agency has not ruled out that the children and their mother may have been subject to domestic abuse so their investigation must be extremely thorough.

It was alleged that the children’s grandfather, Narciso Mucutuy accused the father, Manuel Ranoque, of beating his daughter, Magdalena Mucuty, telling reporters the children would hide in the forest when fighting broke out.

He told reporters that their family situation is private and not “gossip for the world”.

When reporters asked Manuel Ranoque if he physically abused his wife and children he said: “Verbally, sometimes, yes. Physically, very little. We had more verbal fights.”

It was alleged that Manuel was not permitted to see the two oldest children while in hospital but isn’t clear why.

The dog that found the children in the jungle, Wilson, is still missing in the rainforest but military search parties are still prowling the land in hopes they will find him.


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