'Life's looking good' says jungle escaper on return home

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The Independent Online

Looking gaunt and mildly embarrassed by the attention, Matthew Scott was reunited with his family yesterday after a two-week kidnap ordeal in the Colombian jungle.

Tearfully embracing his family at Heathrow airport, the gap-year student again thanked the tribe that found him after he fled from his captors and said that he hoped that those still missing would return home safely.

Mr Scott, 19, said he was well and "happy to be back in England", but was sparing with other details for fear of putting the remaining hostages at greater risk. He was among eight trekkers snatched by guerrillas in the Sierra Nevada mountain range on 12 September.

He escaped by jumping into a river and was picked up by Kogui Indians on Tuesday, after he had wandered in the jungle for 12 days without food. They gave him soup and beans.

Mr Scott said: "I'm happy to be back with my family and I'm looking forward to university. I'm going to be just fine. Life is looking pretty good.I can confirm that I trekked alone without food for 12 days to escape my captors and was picked up by indigenous people in the area. I would like to say thank you to the indigenous people and the Colombian army.

"I am very concerned for the other hostages. They are not just names and faces to me."

After being flown to Bogota, Mr Scott was debriefed by officials at the British embassy in the hope it would help them find the remaining hostages - four Israelis, a German, a Spaniard and a Briton, Mark Henderson, 31, a television producer from North Yorkshire.

He hopes to spend the next week with his family in Clapham, south London, before starting an engineering degree at Oxford University.

"In the next few days I hope to make a full and frank statement, but for the moment I have to consider that some of the information I hold is still sensitive and the situation is still very tense.

"I do not want to put the other hostages in danger," he said, while flanked by his father, James, mother, Kate, brother Ned, 17, and sister Molly, 13.

His father, a retired surgeon, said that his son's return was a "miracle, several miracles", adding that the hostages were "in our thoughts and our prayers".

He said: "It has been a very difficult time for him and us and we hope we might be allowed time to reflect on these matters."

The Colombian army is continuing its search for the hostages, who are believed to be held by the Cuban-backed National Liberation Army.