STORY: The fate of four children who went missing after a plane crash in Colombia is now unclear...
...after the country’s President backtracked on his announcement they’d been found alive.
On Thursday he deleted a tweet saying the children, aged 13, 9, and 4 as well as an 11-month-old baby, were safe.
[Gustavo Pero / Colombian President]
“I have decided to delete the tweet because it hasn't been possible to confirm the information provided by the ICBF. I'm sorry it happened. Military forces and indigenous communities will carry on with their restless search so we can deliver the country the news they are waiting. At this time there's no other priority other than moving forward with the search until you find them. The children's lives are the most important."
The children were passengers on a small plane flying a domestic route when it issued a mayday alert due to engine failure on May 1.
Three adults, including the pilot and the mother of the missing children, were found dead inside the plane on May 16.
Their bodies were finally recovered by authorities on Thursday after poor weather and the remoteness of the crash site delayed the operation.
As she grieves for her daughter who died in the crash, Maria Fatima Valencia hopes she will be reunited with her four grandchildren soon.
[Maria Fatima Valencia / Mother to crash victim and grandmother to missing children]
“I know we are indigenous people and this is being aired globally but I'm in pain here as a grandmother and for my daughter who I lost. I hope they find them. When I'm told they have been found, I'll be happy.”
Preliminary reports indicated the children survived the crash and set off into the rainforest to find help.
Rescuers found discarded fruit the children appear to have eaten to survive, as well as improvised shelters in the jungle and other items.