A tribe deep in the Amazon jungle has taken eight public officials hostage and demanded help after an oil spill polluted their land.
Authorities say the Wampis people, who live in Mayuriaga, Peru, seized a grounded military helicopter late on Sunday, taking at least eight people hostage.
They reportedly held officials and crew members hostage, demanding help from the government and to be included in the emergency response plan.
The hostage situation was confirmed by German Velasquez, president of Petroperu, a state-owned energy company, on Monday. Reportedly, the group being held includes three Petroperu officials, four with OEFA, and a specialist with the energy and mines ministry.
The tribe are demanding help cleaning up an oil spill after the the company’s 40-year-old pipeline ruptured and spilled 1,000 barrels of oil in Mayuriaga on Wednesday February 3.
Incredibly, the spill comes only nine days after another leak in the same duct, which poured 2,000 barrels near eight other indigenous villages.
The environmental regulator OEFA has ordered Petroperu to replace the damaged parts of the pipeline after repeated leaks in recent years. It’s said these two recent spills have unfortunately polluted at least two rivers, including a tributary of the Amazon River.
Although the second leak has been officially called “the Mayuriaga spill” because it took place in Mayuriaga, the government failed to include the people of Mayuriaga in the official list of affected groups, meaning they didn’t receive any emergency supplies or attention.
Deputy Culture Minister Patricia Balbuena has said that the government will now amend the emergency decree, published last month, to include Mayuriaga, and claimed it was not clear why it excluded Mayuriaga.
It’s a mistake that should be corrected as soon as possible.
Petroperu potentially faces $17 million (£12 million) in fines if tests confirm the recent spills affected the health of locals, OEFA has said.
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