Mom From Amazon Plane Crash Survived For Days, Urged Children To Save Themselves

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The mother of four young children who survived 40 days in the Amazon jungle after a plane crash initially survived the tragic accident, but urged her children to leave her behind in order to save themselves, family members revealed Sunday.

Magdalena Mucutuy was alive four days after the plane in which she and her children were traveling crashed in the Amazonian jungle, the children told family members, according to The Guardian. Manuel Ranoque, the father of two of the children, told reporters his daughter detailed the last heroic and selfless moments of Mucutuy’s life after her rescue.

“Before she died, she said to them: ‘Maybe you should go. You guys are going to see the kind of man your dad is, and he’s going to show you the same kind of great love that I have shown you,'” Ranoque stated, according to The Guardian.

Mucutuy and her four children set off from a small village in the Amazon rainforest on May 1 with two other adults. They were en route to San Jose del Guaviare, a small city on the edge of the rainforest, when the single-engine propeller plane they were traveling in suffered an engine failure and crashed into the jungle below. Colombian soldiers and Indigenous volunteers searched the dense landscape for weeks before finding the wreckage and bodies of the three adults. Still missing were the four children — ages 13, nine, four and 11 months. (RELATED: Family’s Only Survivor Is Baby Who Was Born While Mother Was Trapped Under Rubble From Earthquake)

Using rescue dogs, soldiers and volunteers combed the jungle for the children until they were found on June 9. The children had spent 40 days in the jungle living off a bag of cassava flour taken from the wreckage and seeds and fruits in the forest around them, the children’s great-uncle, Fidencio Valencia, told The Guardian.

Though the search party blasted a recording of the grandmother’s voice in an attempt to find the children, the recording actually had the opposite effect, journalist Alicia Méndez explained, according to The Guardian. “They heard the message and they were afraid, they hid in the bush so as not to be found,” said Méndez. “Every time [the search team] was close, they hid. We don’t know what was going through their little heads.”

Valencia told reporters the sounds of the barking dogs also scared them, though eventually it was a dog who led rescuers to the children, the outlet reported.

Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, met with the children in the hospital Saturday. “The jungle saved them,” Petro stated, according to The Guardian. “They are children of the jungle, and now they are also children of Colombia.”