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Tourists stranded in Machu Picchu amid protests in Peru

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About 300 tourists from around the world have been stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu, according to the mayor, after Peru was plunged into a state of emergency following the ousting of the country’s president.

Ancient President Pedro Castillo was impeached and then arrested in early December after announcing his intention to dissolve Congress. The unrest sparked by his arrest prompted international travel warnings to Peru.

Darwin Baca, the mayor of Machu Picchu, said Peruvians, South Americans, Americans and Europeans are among the stranded travelers.

“We have asked the government to help us and establish helicopter flights to evacuate tourists,” Baca said on Friday. The only way to get in and out of the city is by train, and those services are suspended until further notice, he said.

In a ray of hope for those affected, a statement issued Friday evening by the Municipal District of Machu Picchu said that stranded tourists should be evacuated on Saturday.

“The Municipality, through the Tourism Unit, carries out the necessary coordination for the selection and prioritization of children and vulnerable people for transfer on humanitarian flights, work that has been carried out in coordination with the National Police and the district health center”. the statement said.

Trains to and from Machu Picchuthe main means of access to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, were interrupted on Tuesday, according to a statement from PeruRail, the Peruvian rail operator in the southern and southeastern regions of the country.

“PeruRail said they are still reviewing the situation,” Baca explained.

The United States is in contact with American citizens stranded in Peru, a State Department spokesperson told CNN on Friday.

“We are providing all appropriate consular assistance and are monitoring the situation closely. For privacy and security reasons, we will not go into details on the number of US citizens who have contacted us,” the spokesperson added. .

The U.S. Embassy in Peru said in a statement Friday that the Peruvian government is organizing an evacuation of foreigners from Aguas Calientes, a town that serves as the main access point to Machu Picchu.

We will post a message with instructions as soon as the support plan is confirmed. Travelers located in Aguas Calientes / Machu Picchu Village should follow the instructions of local authorities if they choose to stay in place for assistance in getting to Cusco, as well as all travelers who may choose to travel on foot” , the statement added.

Meanwhile, Mayor Baca warned that Machu Picchu is already suffering from food shortages due to the protests and that the local economy is 100% dependent on tourism.

Baca called on the government, led by new president Dina Boluarte, to establish a dialogue with the local population to end the social unrest as soon as possible.

PeruRail said it would help passengers change their travel dates.

We regret the inconvenience these announcements cause for our passengers; However, they are due to situations beyond the control of our company and seek to prioritize the safety of passengers and workers,” the company said in a statement.

Travelers wait outside Cusco airport on Friday after it was temporarily closed due to protests.

Peru’s transport ministry said Friday that flights had resumed from Cusco’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport after being temporarily suspended amid protests in the country.

“Passengers who need to travel during curfew hours can use their tickets as safe conduct,” the ministry said.

Operations to and from Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón International Airport in Arequipa remain suspended.

“LATAM maintains constant monitoring of the political situation in Peru to provide relevant information based on its impact on our flight operations,” LATAM Airlines Peru said in a statement.

“We are awaiting the response from the competent authorities, who must take corrective measures to ensure safety for the development of flight operations.”

He added: “We regret the inconvenience this situation beyond our control has caused to our passengers and we are reinforcing our commitment to aviation safety and connectivity in the country.”

At least 20 people died amid political protests.

Protesters clash with police during a demonstration in Lima on Thursday.

The US State Department has issued a travel advisory for citizens traveling to Peru, which it has classified as a Tier Three “reconsider travel” destination.

Demonstrations can lead to the closure of local roads, trains and major highways, often without notice or an estimated reopening time.

“Road closures can significantly reduce access to public transport and airports and can disrupt travel both within and between cities,” he warns.

The Department of State asks travelers to Peru to register for STEP alerts from the U.S. Embassy if they haven’t already.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has also warned its citizens about the situation.

UK nationals should take particular care to avoid all protest areas. If possible, you should stay in a safe place. … You must plan ahead for any serious disruption of any plan. the FCDO said on Friday evening on its website.

He also told travelers arriving in the capital, Lima, that it was not possible to travel to or from many regional areas – including Cusco and Arequipa – and that more disruption was possible.

UK nationals have also been warned to abide by Peruvian curfews in place and to monitor local news and social media for more information.

Canada’s Department of Global Affairs has warned its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” in Peru and avoid non-essential travel to many areas. from Canada Global News spoke to a Canadian stuck in the small town of Ica in southern Peru, who said he was now far from civil unrest but was robbed in a taxi.

Amy Madden, an American traveler to Peru, recounted a long trek she and other stranded tourists made through the country’s Sacred Valley in an attempt to leave the area after days of unrest.

The trip included a scare when her tour group had to stop at a makeshift roadblock in a village near Ollantaytambo on Friday, she told CNN via text message.

Once the tourists got out of the van, a group of about a dozen men and a few women attacked the empty vehicle, she said, with one man using a scythe to slash the tires. She and the other tourists fled and were not injured, she added. Another van picked them up later and took them to Ollantaytambo.

Madden said she had now arrived safely in Cusco and was looking – without much luck – for flights out of the country.

Although she feels safe at the moment, she is anxious. “It’s just a lot of unknowns,” she said.

American tourist Kathryn Martucci spoke to CNN about being stuck in Machu Picchu, Peru.

Another American tourist stuck in Machu Picchu is out of medicine and doesn’t know when she will be able to leave the small town and get more, she told CNN.

Florida resident Kathryn Martucci, 71, was on a group trip with 13 other Americans when Peru entered a state of emergency, she said.

According to Martucci, his traveling party was unable to catch the last train out of the small town before the railroad was suspended.

Her son Michael Martucci, who lives in the United States, also spoke with CNN and tried to help his mother find a way out.

“They’ve been there since Monday, and now she and the other people she’s with are running out of medication that they need,” Michael Martucci said. There’s nothing in the little town they’re stuck in. They are safe and luckily have food, but there is no way to get more medicine.”

Kathryn Martucci said her group was to stay at Machu Picchu for two days. So they were told to travel light and only bring two days’ worth of medicine.

On Friday morning, Martucci said his guide took his group to City Hall for a medical evaluation in the hope that local authorities would understand their situation and help them find a way out.

“There were about 100 tourists in line, and we waited two hours to see the doctor,” Martucci said. “They told me that I was a priority and that they were going to try to get me out of Machu Picchu by helicopter in the next two days.”

Still, Martucci doesn’t know if that will happen, she told CNN.

“There are several people who need help, and a helicopter can only carry 10 people. We don’t know what’s going on.

CNN’s Forrest Brown and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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