British tourists among 70 held hostage by Amazonian tribe released

 (Ángela Ramírez /Facebook)
(Ángela Ramírez /Facebook)

A group of tourists in Peru who were held hostage by protesters in anger over oil spills in the Amazon rainforest have been released.

At least three British tourists were among the group of 70.

Holidaymakers were travelling on a river boat when indigenous people from Cuninico in the Loreto province, Peru’s northernmost region, boarded the vessel and took charge of the ship’s engine.

The tourists, including disabled people, women and children, believed to be from the United States, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

“After dialogue with the [head] of the Cuninico communities, our request to release people was accepted,” officials in the Amazon region said.

Reports suggested the tourists’ possessions remained on board. The Foreign Office confirmed it was helping a small number of British travellers who were on board the Eduardo 11 when it was seized in a protest.

The tribe leader had said they were trying to get attention from the state after constant oil spills in the Cuninico River.

 (Facebook)
(Facebook)

“[We want] to call the government’s attention with this action, there are foreigners and Peruvians, there are about 70 people,” Watson Trujillo, the leader of the Cuninico community, told Radio Programas del Perú (RPP Radio).

He suggested the tourists could have been held from 6-8 days on the boat until a government delegation was sent to assess the damage of a broken oil pipleine which he claims has killed two children and a woman.

One British passenger being held on the boat, Charlotte, previously said the group was starting to run out of food and water.

“Conditions are starting to deteriorate,” she said in a message sent to the BBC.

Ángela Ramírez, a Peruvian national completing a cycle tour was among those “held hostage” by the tribe.

She posted on Facebook: “We are in Cuninico an indigenous community of the Jungle, we are hostages of the community, as there were 46 oil spills, which caused the death of 2 children and 1 woman.

“They are KIND AND RESPECTFUL to us, but it is the only way they have found to look for solutions for their community.

“The quicker they are heard the quicker they will let us go.

“We’ve been here since 10am they took the boat and took the battery.

“Help me share, we’re physically fine. Help me help them to be heard.”

On Friday morning she posted an update describing the horrendous conditions they were being kept in.

She said: “We spent the night here.

“We hardly have any water to drink anymore.

“The sun has risen and is strong

“There are babies crying, the youngest is 1 month old.

“We have pregnant women, disabled people and the elderly.

“Now we don't have light to charge the cell phones or water to wash ourselves.

“Help me.”

An Foreign Office spokesperson said earlier Friday: “We are in contact with the local authorities and a very small number of British nationals involved in an incident in Peru.”