Tourists stranded in Machu Picchu amid Peru protests

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(CNN) — About 300 tourists from around the world are stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu after Peru imposed a state of emergency after the country’s president was ousted, the mayor said.

Former President Pedro Castillo was impeached and later arrested in early December when he announced his plan to dissolve Congress. The unrest sparked by his arrest has prompted international travel warnings to Peru.

Machu Picchu Mayor Darwin Baca said stranded travelers include Peruvians, South Americans, Americans and Europeans.

“We asked the government to help us and start helicopter flights to evacuate tourists,” Baca said. The only way to get to and from the city is by train, and those services have been suspended until further notice, he said.

Trains to and from Machu Picchu, the main access point to the UNESCO World Heritage site, were suspended on Tuesday, PeruRail, the operator of Peru’s railways in the country’s southern and southeastern regions, said in a statement.

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

Machu Picchu lacks food

The mayor also warned that Machu Picchu is already running out of food due to the protests and the local economy is 100% dependent on tourism.

Baca called on the government, led by new President Dina Boluarte, to engage in dialogue with local residents to end the social unrest as soon as possible.

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PeruRail said it would help affected passengers reschedule their travel dates.

“We regret the inconvenience these announcements cause our passengers, but they arise from situations beyond our company’s control and we aim to prioritize the safety of our passengers and employees,” the company said in a statement.

Tourists are stranded elsewhere in Peru

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

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

Paul Gambin/Reuters.

LATAM Airlines Peru said flights to Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón International Airport in Arequipa and Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco, 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Machu Picchu, were temporarily suspended.

“LATAM is constantly monitoring the political situation in Peru to provide the necessary information on how it may affect our air services,” the airline said in a statement.

“We await the response of the relevant authorities, who must take corrective measures to ensure safety in the development of air travel.”

It added: “We regret the inconvenience caused to our passengers as a result of this situation beyond our control and reinforce our commitment to ensure the safety of flights and transportation in the country.”

Warnings from the US and UK

Demonstrators clashed with police during a protest in Lima on Thursday.

Demonstrators clashed with police during a protest in Lima on Thursday.

Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for citizens traveling to Peru, listing it as a level three “travel reconsideration” destination.

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“Demonstrations can bring local roads, trains and major highways to a standstill, often with no advance warning or expected timelines for reopening.”

“Road closures could significantly reduce access to public transport and airports, and disrupt travel both within and between cities,” it warned.

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

“British citizens should take particular care to avoid all protest areas. If possible, you should stay in a safe place… You should plan ahead so that any plans are severely disrupted,” the FCDO said on its website on Friday evening.

It also said travelers arriving in the capital Lima were unable to travel to or from many regional areas, including Cusco and Arequipa, and that more disruption was possible.

British citizens have also been warned to respect Peru’s curfew and to monitor local news and social media for further information.

Tourists are running out of medicine

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

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

Courtesy of Kathryn Martucci

An American tourist stranded in Machu Picchu has run out of medication and doesn’t know when she can leave the town and get more, she tells CNN.

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

According to Martucci, her tour group was unable to catch the last train out of the small town before the railroad was shut down.

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Her son Michael Martucci, who lives in the US, also spoke to 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 the medication they need,” Martucci said. “There’s nothing in the little town they’re stuck in.” Fortunately, they are safe and have food, but there is no way to get more medicine.

Martucci said her group was scheduled to stay in Machu Picchu for two days, so they were told to pack light and only bring a two-day supply of medicine.

On Friday morning, Martucci said her guide took her group to City Hall for a medical evaluation, hoping local officials would understand their plight and help 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 had priority and that they would try to get me out of Machu Picchu by helicopter in the next two days.

But Martucci isn’t sure that will happen, she told CNN.

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


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