Among an estimated 2,000 foreign tourists trapped in the area around Machu Picchu in Peru by floods since Saturday, January 23, about 215 are from Brazil.
Many have not had adequate shelter since all the hotels are full, having to sleep in railroad cars (the tracks have been washed away and the train is not running) without food or water.
Brazil’s Foreign Ministry says it is working with the Brazilian embassy in Lima and Peruvian civil defense officials to get the Brazilians to safety as soon as possible.
Peru’s Foreign Affairs ministry has not authorized the entry of four helicopters and a plane offered by the Brazilian government to assist with the tourists’ evacuation.
Claudio Bonamigo, head of the economic department of the Brazilian embassy, says the offer was made on Tuesday, but the Peruvian authorities prefer to use their own helicopters.
The Minister of Trade and Tourism, Martin Perez, said Peru can do it all by itself: “We appreciate the solidarity aid offered by Colombia, Chile and Brazil, but we do not need it for now, because the area of Machu Picchu is too narrow for more than four helicopters flying over at the same time.”
Taunay is now in Cuzco, where he intends to monitor the help to the Brazilians trapped in Aguas Calientes. Brazilian Army and Air Force planes are in Porto Velho, Roraima state, waiting for permission to fly to Cuzco.
On Tuesday, four Brazilians were removed from the region: three elderly women and a 10-year-old boy. The rescue priority is for children, elderly and sick.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian ambassador in Peru confirmed that all the Brazilians caught in the Machu Picchu area by the rains are well. No one died, no one was injured. There are, however, unconfirmed reports of at least two deaths among all the tourists.
The ambassador, José Taunay Filho, says he has set up a crisis center and is in constant contact with Peruvian authorities dealing with the situation. He said that about 60 people, most of them older people, people with health problems or children, had been airlifted out of danger by Peruvian military and police helicopters.
Taunay Filho also informed he was sending two experienced diplomats to the area to ensure the safe removal of the Brazilians.