At least 20 Indians stranded in Peru await govt aid

At least 20 Indians stranded in Peru awaiting Indian govt aid amidst COVID-19 outbreak

 Representative image. (Credit: Reuters Photo)

Their honeymoon trip across picturesque destinations of South America ended abruptly for this 28-year-old former flight attendant and her husband, who are stuck in Peru amidst a national clampdown, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are anywhere between 20 and 40 Indians stranded in various parts of Peru, some in remote parts with little or no access to internet, tourists that spoke to DH said.

On March 15, Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra announced a national lockdown beginning from the next day. The country has closed its borders and all commercial flights in and out are banned.

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One tourist, Sameera Khan, a Chennai-based former flight attendant, explained their ordeal: “We were deep in the Amazon forest cut off from communication, when this announcement was made. By March 16, we reached Iquitos, where we heard the news. We tried in vain to get a flight from Lima. All forms of transport were halted. The hotels are hostile to foreigners, fearing the virus. With great difficulty, we managed to find lodging. As we are towards the end of our trip and running out of money, we are making do with a single meal every day, thanks to the free breakfast provided by the hotel.”

When they started their journey, there were no Covid-19 cases reported either in India or in Peru, Khan said. The couple travelled to Brazil, Chile and Bolivia, before arriving in Peru on March 10.

The couple, and several other tourists who have already reached out to the Indian Embassy, said no solution was offered to them until now. While the US, UK and Iran were rescuing their citizens, the Indians were stuck, the tourists lamented, seeking the Indian government’s immediate attention.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases

Anxious, some have even reached out to the Ministry of External Affairs through Twitter. Vrishi Reddy (27), a Bengaluru-based activist who landed in Peru to volunteer with a child rights nonprofit, tweeted Wednesday night asking the Indian government to rescue them. 

She is stuck in a remote part of the country. "I was sightseeing before beginning my work and reached Manu National Park in South Eastern Peru, just as the lockdown was put in place. The nearest village is 10 kms away from my lodge and there's no transport facility. I have supplies left for only 5 days. While several other countries have already sent humanitarian flights to rescue their citizens, we do not even know when we are leaving from here,” she narrated, speaking to DH.

Similar is the case of Piyush P, a marketing professional who is stranded in a town 20 hours away from Lima. “Locals are anticipating an extension of the lock down. Trying to get out of here without government intervention is impossible. Three of my flights got cancelled and I’m facing cash crunch until I get a refund for my tickets," he said.

The tourists said they would cooperate with the 14-day quarantine upon arrival here, but they wanted to get back to India at the earliest. With the country stopping all flight services until March 31, their only hope is for Indian officials to airlift them out of the crisis, they said. 

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