An indigenous group protesting a recent oil spill has detained a boat carrying 70 tourists in Peru. The tourists have not been harmed and the group says it plans on releasing them soon.
“[We want] to call the government’s attention with this action, There are foreigners and Peruvians, there are about 70 people,” said Watson Trujillo, the leader of the Cuninico community, told Radio Programas del Perú.
In an interview with Radio Programas del Perú on Friday, Trujillo said the group of tourists would be released soon, and the community would provide facilities for transportation.
Swiss, UK, Spanish, French and American nationals are all said to be on board the boat. The Cuninico people of the Peruvian rainforest are protesting the lack of government aid after 2,500 tons of crude oil spilled into the Cuninico River on Sept. 16. Trujillo said they had not heard from authorities before or during the protests.
The government declared an emergency for the region on Sept. 27. Around 2,700 members of Cuninico and Urarinas indigenous communities call the area home.
State-owned company Petroperu controls the 40-year-old pipeline, which ships oil from the Amazon along the Peruvian coast. The company says an intentional cut in the pipeline caused the oil spill. The National Police of Peru are investigating. The pipeline has been damaged similarly 11 separate times since December.
Cuninico activists vowed to block use of the river to boats and other water vessels.
Trujillo said community members and activists first met with the Presidency of the Council of Ministers on Oct.17. The meeting did not discuss concerns such as safe drinking water, food or the community’s health.
Charlotte Wiltshire, a U.K. tourist onboard, told BBC News that food and water are running short.
“Conditions are starting to deteriorate,” she said in a message sent to the BBC.