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Monday, August 10, 2009

Aqua Riverboat Robbed for Second Time in Two Weeks

Aqua Expeditions riverboat was robbed again Aug. 4 on the Amazon River in Peru. It was the second such incident; the last one occurred July 26. Aqua reports that no passengers or crew members were harmed. The 24-passenger Aqua was boarded by six bandits early Aug. 4. Aqua Expeditions CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro has been meeting this week with senior government officials, including the minister of tourism, head of police, and Department of Defense officers, all of whom pledged to take all necessary actions to guarantee the safety of the Peruvian tourism industry and visitors to the country.

“This incident is of national importance as tourism is a vital activity in the region,” said Martin Perez, the Peruvian minister of tourism. “The Amazon region of Peru is safe for travelers and we cannot allow these incidents to deter their holidays and affect the integrity of the tourism sector.” As a result, both the Peruvian Coast Guard and National Police confirmed that the Aqua and other vessels in the region will have permanent escorts until a long-term plan is implemented to have more presence along the route. In addition, the Aqua and other vessels will have security personnel on board. The Coast Guard has also committed to immediately implement a mobile patrol station halfway through the itinerary with several additional patrol boats.

As an additional and extended measure of security, the Aqua as of Aug. 8 will change its itinerary to avoid the area of the past incident. “This second attack has truly shocked and saddened us,” Galli-Zugaro said. “We want to reassure our guests and clients that all measures are being taken by the government to ensure the safety and security of the region. We are thankful for their proactive measures and continue to work closely with them to avoid any such future incidents. Our operations are continuing as normal, with our first priority being the safety of our passengers and crew.”

According to the Telegraph (UK) officers later recovered some of the holidaymakers' belongings after discovering them in the gang's jungle base camp, where they also confiscated guns and walkie-talkies the armed gang are believed to have used to coordinate their well-planned attack.
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