A pilot and father-to-be who crashed in the middle of the Brazilan rainforest miraculously survived for four days alone.
Injured Maicon Esteves was found alive in the hostile environment by rescuers on Wednesday afternoon, 15 miles from the burned out wreckage.
He was suffering from exhaustion as well as first and second degree burns to his arms, neck and face.
The light agricultural aircraft used for spraying crops crashed on November 3, deep inside the jungle in the central west state of Mata Grosso.
A video shows the moment a search party, including firefighters and police officers, found the 27-year-old man lying on his back near a creek unable to move.
In the footage, the team lift him onto an improvised stretcher with a canopy of leaves shielding his body from the hot sun and trudge for several hours back through the forest to safety.
He was taken on the back of a pick-up to an ambulance waiting on the edge of the forest, as it was unable to get closer due to the rough terrain.
According to a rural worker, who helped in the hunt, Maicon escaped the wreckage and found his way to a river then collapsed upon reaching it.
He was unable to drink any of it because he was too weak to swallow.
Local farmer, Leonisio Lemos, told Globo TV: “Loads of people were looking for him.
"We made a lot of noise, shouting and calling to make sure he could hear we were trying to find him and stopping to listen to check if he was answering back.
“Finally, one of the rescuers heard a faint voice calling for help. The person said ‘please help me, I’m here’.
"His voice was very weak. Everyone ran to the location where the sound came from.
“It was a very emotional moment when he saw us and he kept repeating ‘now I’m saved, now I’m saved’.”
Speaking to his family, the pilot said he was lucky to be alive.
He said he was burned after the plane exploded when it hit the ground, but he did not give more details about what may have caused the accident.
He reportedly said he used a GPS satellite navigation device to find the stream.
By Wednesday he was too weary to continue walking and decided to lie down on the banks of the river, which is where he was found.
The aviation accident was witnessed from a distance by two farmhands who saw the aircraft losing power and disappearing into the forest. It took them about an hour and a half to cut through the jungle to get to the wreckage.
When they reached the crash site, they found the yellow aircraft, a Neiva EMB-201, on fire and debris scattered across a wide area but no sign of the pilot.
The aircraft cabin was still intact and the door open, which indicated that Mr Esteves had left the scene.
When no blood traces were found on the wreck, family and friends clung to the hope he would be rescued alive following the forced landing.
His pocket knife was located six feet away from the plane, along with some paper identified as being his.
Broken tree branches suggested the stranded man was trying to find his way out of the woods.
At the time his brother Diego said: “We’ve searched the area but we cannot find him. We think he is probably disorientated and lost, but we believe we will find him alive. The bushes are ladened with plenty of fruit to eat.”
The pilot’s girlfriend Rebecca Frietas, who is pregnant with their first child, described him as a ‘guy who cannot stand still’.
He ‘would be looking for help and trying to get out of the woods’, she said.
But as the days wore on rescuers became increasingly worried that time was running out and his injuries could leave him vulnerable to potential attacks from jaguars that inhabit the area.
A group of volunteers covered a 1,000 metre wide radius in terrain described as extremely difficult to reach and trekked through challenging conditions that hampered the quest to find the missing airman.
The experienced pilot, who has been flying for more than five years, took off from Porto Nacional in the state of Tocantins for Alta Floresta, a 10 hour flight, to carry out crop dusting on farms.
He planned two stopovers to refuel but crashed in dense jungle miles away from his final destination.
He said he was determined to survive despite the odds being against him. And his resilience paid off.
He is expected to stay in hospital for at least a week.
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