Tourists held by Peruvian indigenous group protesting oil spill are freed, says official
Dramatic rescues of tourists from an oil drilling platform in the Peruvian Amazon are over after a court ruled against an objection to the use of a helicopter to rescue the group, an official said.
The decision is a victory for the indigenous groups who tried to prevent the use of the Peruvian army helicopter, known as H-6. The group includes environmentalists and fishermen, among others.
The group had threatened protests if the use of the aircraft was allowed.
Tourists held by indigenous groups protesting the oil spill are freed after an appeal against a previous order restraining them from leaving the area, an official told AFP.
“The judge has ruled in our favour. He said the protesters are not responsible for the spill,” a court official told AFP outside court in Cusco on Monday.
“The protesters are free to go,” the official added.
In addition, the oil spill was said to have caused at least 30 deaths in the Andean country, according to the World Health Organization, of which Peru is an observer state.
The ruling was made at the Cusco court on Monday, after an appeal in August by the Peruvian army helicopter company that the protesters had blocked the air force from moving in to evacuate them.
The helicopter was used to rescue tourists trapped by rising water off the coast of Peru’s southern coast, while hundreds of tourists spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on fishing boats in the area.
The company hired to operate H-6, ARA, said no one was hurt as the helicopter continued to fly off the coast for more than five hours.
But Greenpeace Peru spokesman Jose Luis Venerde said: “This is not a victory for the community, [it is a] victory for the oil industry and the oil company, which has been trying for months with all the resources at its disposal to avoid any kind of rescue, from helicopters, boats or any other kind of technical equipment.”
“The worst thing is what happened to the people in the communities,” Venerde added.
“For these people, it’s all over.”