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Tourists from around the world have been left stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu after Peru was plunged into a state of emergency following the arrest of the country’s president.
The main means of accessing the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the rail line – was suspended as violent protests broke out and supporters of the president set up roadblocks making it challenging to travel within the country, or to leave it.
Trains to and from Machu Picchu, the country’s most popular tourist destination, were halted on Tuesday according to a statement from PeruRail, Peru’s railway operator in the south and southeast regions of the country.
President Pedro Castillo was impeached and subsequently arrested in early December after announcing his plan to dissolve Congress. The unrest sparked by his arrest has prompted international warnings about travel to Peru.
PeruRail said it would assist affected passengers in changing the dates of their travel.
“We regret the inconvenience that these announcements generate for our passengers; however, they are due to situations beyond the control of our company and seek to prioritize the safety of passengers and workers,” the company said in a statement.
LATAM Airlines Peru said operations to and from Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon International Airport in Arequipa and Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cuzco, 75 kilometers (46 miles) from Machu Picchu, had been temporarily 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,” the airline said in statement. “We await the response of the relevant authorities, who must take corrective measures to ensure safety for the development of air operations.”
It 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.”
The US State Department has issued a travel advisory for citizens traveling in Peru, which it has listed as a level three “reconsider travel” destination.
“Demonstrations can cause the shutdown of local roads, trains, and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Road closures may significantly reduce access to public transportation and airports and may disrupt travel both within and between cities,” it warns.
At least six people have died amid the political demonstrations.
Top: Tourists lining up at the Machu Picchu train station. Image via Getty.