An 18-year-old woman and her baby miraculously survived a small plane crash in the Colombian jungle and then survived five days on coconut water before rescuers finally located them, according to officials and reports.
Colombian airmen and disaster relief agency workers discovered the mother, Marie Nelly Murillo and her one-year-old son Wednesday after five days of search and rescue efforts that immediately began when their plane was reported missing Saturday, the Colombian Air Force said today in a statement.
"It's a miracle. It is a very wild area and it was a catastrophic accident," Colombian Air Force Col. Hector Carrascal told the BBC. He added the mother's spirit must have given the baby "the strength to survive."
Murillo, 18, suffered injuries and minor burns, but the baby was apparently unharmed, the Air Force said. They were flown in a helicopter to a hospital in Quibdo, Colombia.
The pilot of the small plane, a Cessna 303, was discovered dead on Monday before the mother and her baby were found, according to the Air Force. It was not clear what the relationship between the woman and baby and the pilot was or why they were on the plane.
Murillo, 18, and her son were passengers in the small plane, which was carrying fish and coconuts from the town of Nuqui to Quibdo, the the BBC reported.
A trail of clues including coconut shells discovered near the plane site and a discarded flip-flop in the jungle gave the rescue teams hope during the nearly week-long search that ended Wednesday, the BBC added.
Murillo wandered in the jungle carrying her child, surviving on coconut water and trying unsuccessfully to trap rodents for food, Red Cross volunteer Acisclo Renteria told The Associated Press (AP).
The 38-year-old rescuer said he saw the success as a blessing, the AP added.
"I thanked my little God for allowing me to save these two people," Renteria, who has been asked by Murillo to be her son's godfather, told the AP. "One thing is telling you on the phone what we experienced but it's quite another is to have lived it."