(CNN) Some 300 tourists from around the world have been stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu, according to the mayor, after Peru plunged into a state of emergency following the ouster of the country’s president.
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 set up helicopter flights to evacuate tourists,” Baca said on Friday. The only way in and out of the town is by train, and these services are suspended until further notice, he said.
In a ray of hope for those affected, a statement released late Friday by the Machu Picchu Municipal District said the stranded tourists were expected to 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 the transfer on humanitarian flights, work that has been carried out in coordination with the National Police and the district Health Center ”, the statement said.
“PeruRail said that they are still reviewing the situation,” Baca explained.
The United States is in contact with US 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. Due to privacy and security considerations, we will not provide further details on the number of US citizens who have communicated,” the spokesperson added.
The US embassy in Peru said in a statement early Friday that the Peruvian government was organizing an evacuation of foreigners from Aguas Calientes, a town that serves as the main access point to Machu Picchu.
“We will release a message with instructions as soon as the assistance plan is confirmed. Travelers located in Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu Village must follow the instructions of the local authorities if they choose to remain in place to receive assistance with the trip to Cusco, as well like any travelers who may choose to travel on foot,” the statement added.
Food shortage in Machu Picchu
Meanwhile, Mayor Baca warned that Machu Picchu is already suffering from food shortages due to the protests and that the local economy depends 100% on tourism.
Baca urged the government, headed by the new president Dina Boluarte, to start a dialogue with the local population to put an end to social discontent as soon as possible.
PeruRail said it would help affected passengers to change their travel dates.
“We regret the inconvenience that these announcements generate for our passengers, however, they are due to situations beyond our company and seek to prioritize the safety of passengers and workers,” the company said in a statement.
Travelers wait outside the Cuzco airport on Friday after it was temporarily closed due to protests.
Peru’s transport ministry said on Friday that flights had resumed from the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco after they were temporarily suspended amid protests in the country.
“Passengers who need to move during curfew hours will be able to use their travel tickets as safe passage,” the ministry said.
Operations to and from the Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón International Airport in Arequipa continue to be suspended.
“LATAM maintains constant monitoring of the political situation in Peru to provide the pertinent information according to how it may impact our air operation,” LATAM Airlines Peru said in a statement.
“We await the response of the corresponding authorities, who must take corrective measures to guarantee safety for the development of air operations.”
He added: “We regret the inconvenience that this situation beyond our control has caused our passengers and we reinforce our commitment to air safety and connectivity in the country.”
US, UK and Canadian Warnings
Demonstrators clash with police during a protest in Lima on Thursday.
The US Department of State has issued a travel advisory for citizens traveling in Peru, which it has listed as a level three “travel reconsideration” destination.
“Demonstrations can result in the closure of local roads, trains and major highways, often without warning or estimated timeframes for reopening.
“Road closures can significantly reduce access to public transport and airports and can disrupt travel both within and between cities,” it warns.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has also warned its citizens about the situation.
He also told travelers arriving in the capital Lima that there was no possibility of travel to or from many regional areas, including Cusco and Arequipa, and further disruption was possible.
British citizens were also warned to respect the curfews in place in Peru and to monitor local news and social media for more information.
Amy Madden, an American traveler in Peru, recounted a long journey 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 his tour group had to stop at a makeshift roadblock in a town near Ollantaytambo on Friday, he told CNN via text message.
Once the tourists got out of the van, a group of a dozen men and a few women attacked the empty vehicle, he said, with one man using a scythe to cut the tires. She and the other tourists escaped and were not harmed, she added. Later another truck picked them up and took them to Ollantaytambo.
Madden said he had now safely reached Cusco and was looking, without much luck, for flights out of the country.
Although she feels safe right now, she is restless. “It’s just a lot of unknowns,” she said.
Tourists running out of medicine
American tourist Kathryn Martucci spoke to CNN about being trapped in Machu Picchu, Peru.
Courtesy Kathryn Martucci
Another American tourist who is stuck in Machu Picchu has run out of medicine and is not sure 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 travel group was unable to catch the last train out of the small town before the railway was discontinued.
Her son Michael Martucci, who lives in the United States, also spoke to CNN and has been trying 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 medicine they need,” Michael Martucci said. “There is nothing in the small town they are stuck in. They are safe and have food luckily, but there is no way to get more medicine.”
Kathryn Martucci said her group was scheduled to stay at 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 his tour guide took his group to City Hall for medical evaluation in the hope that local officials would understand their situation and help them find a way out.
“There were around 100 tourists in line and we waited two hours before seeing the doctor,” Martucci said. “They told me that I was a priority and that they were going to try to take me out of Machu Picchu in a helicopter in the next two days.”
However, Martucci isn’t sure 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 is happening.”