EPAA photo of where the children were found in the jungle
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 16:05
The rescue of the four Colombian children who were found alive after forty days in the deep jungle has brought great relief to the couple living in the Netherlands who were closely involved in the search.
Humberto Hinestrosa (with Venezuelan and Colombian roots) and his wife Anne van den Ouwelant (a Dutch trauma expert) have been intensively involved in the search over the past month. First to the plane and later on to the four missing children.
Hinestrosa is the founder of Rescue International, a Netherlands-based organization that assists local authorities worldwide with searches in inhospitable areas. The couple helped out from their home near Arnhem. They previously did so in the search for the plane of the Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala.
Silence was a good sign
Because they were in their hands in Colombia a week after the disappearance of the plane, Hinestrosa was approached by the authorities. Through extensive analysis of various data, he advised the authorities in Colombia on where to look and especially how to search. In the end, the children were found in the area designated by Hinestro.
On one of the maps below you can see Hinestro’s advice with the advised area:
Rescue InternationalAdvieskaart van Humberto Hinestrosa van Rescue International
“It was a wonderful surprise, because there were no clear signals beforehand that the children would now be found,” Hinestrosa told NOS. But according to Hinestrosa, who has been in the business for 32 years, the latter is often a good sign. “We have received less and less messages from Colombia in recent days. Usually that means that they are close by.”
Watch footage of the jungle rescue here:
Children found alive after 40 days in Colombian jungle after plane crash
Locating the aircraft was an important moment, emphasizes the data analyst. “Without the plane we would never have been able to find the children, then you wouldn’t have had a starting point.” And without a starting point, searching that dense jungle was like searching for a needle in a haystack.
It is certain that Hinestrosa’s analysis of the possible location of the plane has given the search for the wreckage a push in the right direction. For example, his maps and analyzes were used several times by the Colombian aviation authority shared.
But even after the plane was found, Hinestrosa provided the rescue workers in Colombia with recommendations. Including the advice not to go after the children, but to be ahead of them, as it were, by demarcating and closing off the areas.
’13-year-old girl is the real hero’
He admires the more than a hundred special forces that were searching, but the real hero in this story according to Hinestrosa? The oldest girl, who is 13 years old.
“Without her, the little ones wouldn’t have survived. Being together helped them survive,” says Hinestrosa. He suspects that the fact that they belong to an indigenous tribe also came in handy. “The jungle was their backyard, that’s their culture. That’s how they knew which fruits and which plants they could eat and which they couldn’t. They grew up with that.”
ReutersOne of the children arrives at the airbase in Bogotá. Members of an indigenous community watch
Now that the children have been found alive, the big question is how they are doing. Photos released by the Colombian authorities clearly show how emaciated the children are.
After the rescue operation in the deep jungle, the children have been transferred to a hospital in the capital Bogotá, where they will be fully checked. At the same time, mental health is also an important point, says Hinestrosa’s wife Van den Ouwelant.
“This has a huge impact on the children. You have to monitor how they develop and how much they will suffer from these traumatic events. A trauma specialist must be involved as soon as possible,” says the trauma expert.
Hope for trauma processing
She says it could go either way. “With the 13-year-old, she may have experienced more control due to the responsibility, organizing and arranging. Yet as a teenager she is also more aware of the situation than, for example, the 11-month-old baby, although that can also be done in the disadvantage work.”
Van den Ouwelant has good hopes for the coming period. “The fact that they live in a community where people care for and support each other helps. The routine of the community provides structure. And that gives stability.”
The large amount of media attention does not help, of course. Cameras, microphones and everything that comes with it will only overstimulate the children. So keep it away, says the expert.
But since this Colombian miracle could just as well have been the script of a feature film, Van den Ouwelant holds her breath.