(CNN) – About 300 tourists from around the world are stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu, according to the mayor, after Peru was forced into a state of emergency following the ouster of the country’s president.
Machu Picchu’s mayor, Darwin Baca, said stranded travelers include Peruvians, South Americans, Americans and Europeans.
“We have asked the government to help us and establish helicopter flights to evacuate tourists,” Baga said. The only way to get in and out of the city is by train, and these services will remain suspended until further notice, he said.
“PeruRail is still reviewing the situation,” Baca explained.
The U.S. is in contact with U.S. citizens stranded in Peru, a State Department spokesperson told CNN on Friday.
“We are providing all appropriate diplomatic assistance and are closely monitoring the situation. For privacy and security reasons, we will not go into further detail about the number of US citizens we contacted,” the spokesperson added.
The U.S. Embassy in Peru said in a statement early Friday that the Peruvian government is organizing the evacuation of foreigners from Aguas Calientes, a city that serves as the main access point to Machu Picchu.
“We will issue a message with instructions once the assistance program is confirmed. Travelers located in the village of Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu who wish to receive assistance traveling to Cusco should follow the instructions of local authorities. Travelers who wish to travel on foot,” the statement added.
Food shortages at Machu Picchu
Mayor Baca warned that Machu Picchu is already suffering from food shortages due to the protests and that the local economy is 100% dependent on tourism.
Baca called on the government led by new President Tina Polwart to establish a dialogue with the local population to end the social unrest as soon as possible.
PeruRail said it was helping affected passengers reschedule their travel dates.
“We regret the inconvenience these announcements cause to our passengers; however, they are caused by circumstances beyond our company’s control and seek to prioritize the safety of passengers and workers,” the company said in a statement.
Tourists were stranded elsewhere in Peru
Passengers wait outside the airport in Cusco on Friday after it was closed due to protests.
LATAM Airlines Peru said operations to and from Alfredo Rodriguez Balon International Airport in Arequipa, 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Machu Picchu, and Alejandro Velasco Astet International Airport in Cusco were temporarily suspended.
“LATAM continues to monitor the political situation in Peru to provide relevant information as to how it may affect our flight operations,” the airline said in a statement.
“We are awaiting a response from the relevant authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure safety for the development of flight operations.”
It added: “We regret the inconvenience this situation beyond our control has caused to our passengers and we reinforce our commitment to flight safety and connectivity in the country.”
Warnings from the US, UK and Canada
Demonstrators clashed with police during a protest in Lima on Thursday.
The US State Department has issued a travel advisory for citizens traveling to Peru, which is listed as a level three “reconsider travel” destination.
“Demonstrations can cause the closure of local roads, trains and major highways, often without prior notice or an estimated reopening timeframe.
“Road closures could significantly reduce access to public transport and airports and disrupt travel within and between cities,” it warned.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has also warned its citizens about the situation.
It said passengers arriving in the capital of Lima were unable to travel to or from several regional areas, including Cusco and Arequipa, and further disruptions were possible.
British nationals were warned to respect the Peruvian curfew and to monitor local news and social media for further information.
Tourists run out of medicine
American tourist Kathryn Martucci spoke to CNN about being trapped in Peru’s Machu Picchu.
Courtesy Catherine Martucci
An American tourist stranded in Machu Picchu has run out of medication and doesn’t know when he’ll be able to leave the small town and get more, he tells CNN.
Florida resident Kathryn Martucci, 71, was on a group trip with 13 Americans when Peru went into emergency, she said.
According to Martucci, his expedition group was unable to catch the last train out of the small town before the railroad was suspended.
Her son Michael Martucci, who lives in the U.S., also spoke to CNN and is trying to help his mother find a way out.
“They’ve been there since Monday and now she and the others with her have run out of the medication they need,” Martucci said. “There’s nothing in the small town they’re stuck in. They’re safe and thankfully have food, but no way to get more medicine.”
Martucci said his group was scheduled to stay at Machu Picchu for two days, so they were told to pack light and bring only two days’ worth of medicine.
On Friday morning, Martucci said his tour guide took his group to City Hall for a medical evaluation, hoping local officials would understand their situation and help them find a way out.
“There were about 100 tourists in line and we waited for two hours before we saw the doctor,” Martucci said. “They told me I was a priority and they were going to try to get me out of Machu Picchu by helicopter in the next two days.”
Still, Martucci isn’t sure if that will happen, he told CNN.
“So many people need help, one helicopter can only go 10 people. We don’t know what’s going on.”