Irish tourists stranded in Peru to be evacuated

Up to 40 Irish tourists trapped in Peru could be evacuated by Wednesday.

Irish tourists stranded in Peru to be evacuated

Up to 40 Irish tourists trapped in Peru could be evacuated by Wednesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has urged them to be calm and have patience in the meantime.

A Cork couple is among the group trapped inside hotels and hostels.

The country is under military lockdown until March 31.

Armed soldiers and police patrol the streets day and night.

From yesterday (Sunday), nobody is allowed in or out of the country following an announcement by the country’s president.

Andrew Cotter, from Mitchelstown, and his girlfriend Marie, from Conna, were given just a few hours notice that tourists had to leave the country earlier this week.

The deadline was extended and then on Saturday, Peru’s President Martín Vizcarra announced he was closing his country’s borders.

The Cork couple is now facing arrest if caught outside their hotel, food rationing and growing hostility from local people.

The couple is in a hotel in Cusco, some 20 hours by land from the country’s capital city, Lima.

They have repeatedly called on the Irish government to get them out, with their latest one made through the website on Saturday.

The only private chartered flight they have been offered so far cost between $3,500 and $7,500 - money Mr Cotter and his girlfriend do not have.

But, Mr Cotter said last night, the flights situation may soon change.

“The UK embassy has contacted its citizens informing them of a flight next week at a nominal cost,” he said.

“Fianna Fail TD James O’Connor contacted me, saying we may hear something in the next 48 hours.

“So, we are hoping that will be good news.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs said: “We are aware of the announcement of the Peruvian authorities in relation to ending international commercial travel out of Peru.

“Our Embassy in Santiago is currently assisting a significant number of Irish citizens in Peru. “These people are based in different locations around the country which makes repatriation efforts even more challenging.

“Please be assured that we are working with our EU and UK partners to find the best solutions to get our Irish citizens home.

“We ask all of those affected to stay calm and patient and we will update people as soon as we can.”

Mr Cotter says he and his fellow tourists have been told food rationing is to be increased as food is getting scarce.

He said that if they gather in groups in the hotel, they face having the hotel closed down by the army, as has already happened with some hotels.

Mr Cotter told the Irish Examiner on Saturday “the uncertainty is worrying”.

And he added: “There is an air of hostility against foreigners, examples being not allowed into supermarkets by police, locals shouting and offering rude gestures.”

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