VIDEO: Tourists Stranded At The Ancient City Of Machu Picchu Amid Violence In Peru

Tourists Stranded At Ancient City Of Machu Picchu Amid Violence In Peru

Due to the wave of social unrest that has erupted in Peru, hundreds of foreign tourists, including many Americans, found themselves stranded for several days high in the Andes in and around Machu Picchu.

According to Reuters, there were violent demonstrations in support of Pedro Castillo, the Peruvian president who was overthrown and taken into custody on December 7. The ousted leader had tried to illegally dissolve parliament to avoid impeachment proceedings, which he believed he would lose.

Rioters have attacked airports, occupied buildings, and blocked roads and highways. Angry protesters also blocked railroad tracks leading to the ancient Inca citadel with rocks and fallen trees, according to photos and eyewitness accounts. Hundreds of foreign visitors had no way to leave the UNESCO World Heritage site or get to an airport that was almost 50 miles away.

The Peruvian government planned to evacuate the most vulnerable foreign visitors trapped in Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes (the gateway to the highland citadel) using four helicopters, according to a report released on Friday by the U.S. Embassy in Peru.

Today, NBC News reported that tourism police moved about 400 tourists to the district of Ollantaytambo, northwest of Cusco. The Peruvian Defense Ministry told the U.S. Embassy that it intended to “facilitate humanitarian flights,” with the return of the elderly and most vulnerable as the top priority.

The embassy also stated on Saturday that limited rail service had resumed assisting in the transportation of other foreign tourists who had become stranded in the region, with trains able to take passengers to a “designated point on the railway” after which they would need to travel to Cusco using other methods of transportation.

The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru (MINCETUR) and iPeru, the Andean country’s travel assistance program, were tasked with organizing the departure of the trains.

Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport (CUZ), in Cusco, is “open and flights are departing at a normal volume,” according to an embassy’s statement “most travelers report that they have been able to secure flights out over the next two days.” it said. Other airports are still closed. Additionally, it advised against going to the airport until you have a confirmed flight with information about departure.