Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For shame, Peru.

The weather has been awful... not a big surprise given the season...

...yet ~2,000 tourists (exact count unknown), who were allowed to go up even in these conditions, have been trapped by deadly mudslides in the vicinity of the historic Machu Picchu site, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This is a large, remote area, accessible by trail and a specially-build road and rail line (which can't operate in dangerous weather like this). Many bridges along the line are washed out, anyway. Other than the facilities for the tourist arrivals and departures, there is basically nothing more than a few hostels there in the way of shelter or supplies.

The national government did declare a state of emergency, and did begin a rescue/relief effort. But it is one thing to set in motion a relief plan, and quite another thing to run it with any competence, priority, or basic fairness.
Washington Farfan, a guide at the site, said: "The situation is chaotic. Unfortunately, the rescue effort has not been organised correctly. People are really upset right now."

He also said that food was running short. "We haven't been given anything to eat. Each one is left to work out his rations," he said, adding that the vendors at the tourist site had immediately doubled their prices when it became clear the foreigners were stuck.
Bad, but almost expected.
Rudy Chalco, a tour guide with a group of elderly Europeans, said that the rescuers were not complying with the government's orders to prioritise the evacuation of children, the elderly and sick, and that some were paying to skip to the top of the list.

"The situation is about to erupt," he said.

"We don't have any more food, disorder is starting to reign, the soldiers and police that are here don't know what to do or how to organise the help that has arrived, people are getting desperate and no one is taking charge."

There are five people known to be dead already: one tourist, a guide, and three locals.

If the Government of Peru doesn't get a handle on this, there will likely be more.

I *know* that the Government has limited resources. That isn't the matter in question. This is:

After the rescue is completed... UNESCO should demand a criminal inquest into rescuers accepting or even demanding bribe money... as a condition of UNESCO *not* suspending World Heritage financial support over this fiasco.

1 comment:

Susan said...

In the Cuzco region, damages are assessed as to 172 million.

I don't understand why people would assume the risk, maybe not thinking, the worse could happen,

As for rescue efforts, this does not surprise me...

and those profiting from this, raising prices, with food and water shortages.... shame and shame!