Coronavirus: Peru rescue missions could still leave some UK travellers stranded

Simon Calder
Homeward bound: British travellers wait for buses in Cusco to take them to the city's airport for a flight to Lima and a connection to London: Sarah Baxter

Even though the government is spending more than £1m returning British travellers from Peru, some UK citizens say they are being left behind.

The Foreign Office has laid on a total of four flights from Lima to London, with additional connecting domestic flights from the tourist hubs of Arequipa and Cusco to the Peruvian capital.

They have been told: “On arrival in Lima you will remain on the aircraft until the UK charter is ready for boarding – you will not be allowed to disembark the aircraft.

But some British backpackers are under lockdown in a hostel in Cusco with 140 others after a guest tested positive for coronavirus. They have no way of reaching the buses that are supposed to take them to the airport.

Sian Forkan, whose Twitter profile describes her as “Mancunian currently trying to get home from Peru”, tweeted: “We received an email to say we can get on the flight tomorrow, great news!

“BUT no reference on how we get out of Pariwana hostel which is currently on full lockdown, with the army on the door.”

Later she tweeted Kate Harrisson, the UK ambassador in Lima, saying: “It would be great if you could reach out personally to those UK nationals that are stuck in Pariwana Hostel with now no hope of getting on the repatriation flights.

“We were told 5 hours before we were due to leave after receiving the email today. Now told we’re here indefinitely.”

Buses were laid on overnight from the cities of Huaraz, Trujillo, La Libertad and Huanchaco to Lima for the flights, which are expected to depart late on Sunday.

Ms Harrisson said on Saturday night: “We expect that the majority, though not all, seats on tomorrow’s flight to London will be taken up by passengers from Cusco. The two London flights on Monday will include passengers from Cusco, Arequipa and Lima.

“Ireland has also chartered a British Airways flight leaving Lima tomorrow and some British nationals – including some of those arriving to Lima by bus – will be boarding that additional flight.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The British embassy will continue to provide consular support to any British nationals who remain in Peru and require assistance. We are in close contact with travel operators and local authorities.”

The cost of the four international flights from Lima and three domestic charters is believed to total around £1.2m, with passengers expected to pay £250 per person once they return home.

Thousands of other UK citizens are stranded in other countries – with a large concentration in India, which has banned all flights.

The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, is expected to announce additional repatriation flights early next week.

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