Four children have been found alive more than a month after their plane crashed in Colombia’s Amazon jungle, the country’s president has said.
The siblings, aged 13, nine, four and a one-year-old baby, were on board the plane with their mother, a pilot and a co-pilot when it crashed on 1 May. Their mother and the other adults on board the plane died.
President Gustavo Petro said finding the children after weeks of searching was “a joy for the whole country”. He called it a “magical day”, adding: “They were alone, they themselves achieved an example of total survival which will remain in history. “These children are today the children of peace and the children of Colombia.”
A massive search began and in May, rescuers recovered items left behind by the children including a child’s drinking bottle, a pair of scissors, a hair tie and a makeshift shelter. Small footprints were also discovered, which led search teams to believe they had survived the collision.
The children belong to the Huitoto indigenous group and members of their community hoped that their knowledge of fruits and jungle survival skills would give them a better chance of surviving. Indigenous people joined the search operation and helicopters broadcasted a message from the children’s grandmother, recorded in the Huitoto language, urging them to stop moving to make them easier to locate.
Colombia’s president came under criticism last month when a tweet published on his account announced that the children had been found. He erased the tweet the next day saying that the information – which his office had been given by Colombia’s child welfare agency – could not be confirmed.
Petro shared a photograph of several members of the military and Indigenous community tending to the siblings, who had been missing for 40 days.He said the children were now receiving medical attention – and that he had spoken to their grandfather, who told him “the mother jungle returned them”.
The Cessna 206 aircraft the children and their mother had been travelling on was flying from Araracuara, in Amazonas province, to San José del Guaviare, when it issued a mayday alert due to engine failure.
The bodies of the three adults who had been with them were found at the crash site by the army.
Preliminary information from the civil aviation authority suggested the children escaped the wreckage and had wandered into the rain forest to find help.
Google accused of directing motorist to drive off collapsed bridge
The family of a US man who drowned after driving off a collapsed bridge are claiming that he died because Google failed to update its maps.
Philip Paxson’s family are suing the company over his death, alleging that Google negligently failed to show the bridge had fallen nine years earlier. The case was filed in civil court in Wake County on Tuesday.
Mr Paxson died in September 2022 after attempting to drive over the damaged bridge in Hickory, North Carolina. A spokesperson for Google said the company was reviewing the allegations.
Paxson, a father of two, was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party at a friend’s house and was in an unfamiliar neighbourhood at the time of his death, according to the family’s lawsuit. His wife had driven his two daughters home earlier, and he stayed behind to help clean up.
“Unfamiliar with local roads, he relied on Google Maps, expecting it would safely direct him home to his wife and daughters,” lawyers for the family said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Tragically, as he drove cautiously in the darkness and rain, he unsuspectingly followed Google’s outdated directions to what his family later learned for nearly a decade was called the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ crashing into Snow Creek, where he drowned.”
Local residents had repeatedly contacted Google to have them change their online maps after the bridge collapsed in 2013, the suit claims.
Barriers that were normally placed across the bridge entrance were missing due to vandalism, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The lawsuit is also suing three local companies, arguing they had a duty to maintain the bridge.
“Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words they can understand because, as an adult, I still can’t understand how those responsible for the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with so little regard for human life,” his wife, Alicia Paxson, said in a statement.
“We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,” a spokesman for Google told AP News. “Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”
Venezuela sends 11,000 troops to retake prison
Venezuela has sent 11,000 troops to regain control of one of its biggest prisons that had been overrun by a powerful criminal gang.
The Tocoron prison, in the north of the country, was under the control of the Tren de Aragua mega-gang for years. Members were able to roam freely around the prison, which had hotel-like facilities including a pool, nightclub and a mini zoo, local media reported.
Officials said the 6,000 inmates would be transferred to other prisons.
Many free residents were living inside the prison alongside sentenced inmates. After authorities announced that prisoners would be relocated, some relatives cried outside, unsure where they would go next. “I am waiting to hear where they are taking my husband. I was living in there, but they kicked us out,” Gladys Hernandez told AFP news agency.
It reported that journalists saw security guards carrying motorcycles, televisions and microwaves from the jail.
In a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, the Venezuelan Interior Ministry congratulated officers for regaining the prison and dismantling “a centre of conspiracy and crime”.
The leader of the Tren de Aragua gang, Hector Guerrero Flores, was serving a 17 year sentence inside the prison for murder and drug trafficking.
However, he was so powerful that he reportedly used to come and go freely from the prison before becoming a full-time inmate, according to Carlos Nieto, from a coordinator with A Window to Freedom.
Gabon partially suspended from Commonwealth after coup
Gabon has been partially suspended from the Commonwealth after military commanders carried out a coup ousting President Ali Bongo.
The decision was made by Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting on the margins of the United Nations general assembly.
Leaders called on Gabon to uphold the values and principles of the Commonwealth. They asked the country to hold credible elections as soon as possible.
Gabon’s military ousted Mr Bongo from power shortly after he was declared winner of the 2023 presidential election. Bongo had been in power in the oil-rich country since 2009, when he succeeded his father who had ruled the country for 41 years. He was initially placed under house arrest as military leaders took over, but was later freed and given permission to travel abroad for medical check-ups.
The foreign ministers – sitting as the Commonwealth ministerial action group – have requested Gabon guarantee Mr Bongo’s safety and that of his family, and said in a statement that they “strongly condemned the unconstitutional removal of the elected government from office”. They said Gabon’s suspension was in place “pending the restoration of democracy”. It excludes Gabon from all Commonwealth intergovernmental meetings and events, including ministerial and heads of government meetings.
The new prime minister, Raymond Ndong Sima, was installed as interim prime minister in September, after Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, who led the coup became Gabon’s transitional president.
Commonwealth ministers gave the new leaders of Gabon two years from 30 August 2023 to hold credible elections. They added in the statement that if progress was not made in that time, the country may be removed from the group altogether.
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