How 20 Hong Kong tourists in Peru got caught up in deadly hotel robbery at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica
- City holidaymakers lose phone, bag and passport in attack
New details have emerged of the terrifying scenes as a group of 20 Hongkongers in Peru had to flee to a hotel kitchen as rifle-toting robbers attacked.
Thomas Chau Wing-keung, general manager at travel agency Jetour, said on Friday that the 19 holidaymakers and one tour escort from his company were having dinner at the luxury Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, outside the city of Puerto Maldonado in the country’s southeast, at about 9pm on Tuesday.
Hearing sudden gunfire, the group tried to rush to the kitchen, but some did not make it in time.
Chau said: “Staff at the hotel asked customers to go into the kitchen from the restaurant right after they heard the gunshots.
“When our travellers were going from the restaurant to the kitchen, the robbers got in and threatened them. They snatched one bag and a mobile phone, and one customer was stripped of a passport.”
He said the robbers quickly left and police officers arrived at the scene within an hour.
A traveller named John who was having dinner with family at the time, told local media they got to the ground before he heard seven or eight gunshot. The robbers wanted two women as hostages, and at one point John said was almost dragged away.
“One robber could not pull me up and for some reason he walked away. I kept thinking I could have been shot,” John told TV station TVB. “No one dared to move, after some time, some other [Jetour] traveller started to cry out of fear, some were praying, some reciting sutra – this makes the atmosphere even tense and terrifying, we felt it was doomsday.”
According to Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council, 20 other holidaymakers and another escort with Hong Kong-based Premium Holidays were also at the hotel. The two travel groups, comprising 41 locals, escaped injury.
The robbers initially caught the Peruvian tour guide at the hotel’s reception but he managed to escape and warn others, a Jetour traveller named Michael told local media. However, the robbers later found the guide and killed him near the restaurant where Michael had been eating.
“Everyone is sad … because the tour guide actually saved us. Otherwise, the gang would have continued with the robbery. It was because they killed this tour guide that they shortened the process,” he said, after learning more details from his tour guide who talked to police. “He is a hero.”
Michael said he also learned the 17 robbers were from a gang from Columbia and Venezuela who were also involved in human trafficking and selling firearms.
Simon Wo, executive director of Premium Holidays, said his company’s clients were in their rooms when the robbery happened, and so had not been too scared. But their escort had been near the scene of the attack and heard six to eight gunshots.
Chau said his customers were frightened, but carried on with their 27-day South America trip. The victim who lost the passport would have to stay in Peru to figure out alternative immigration arrangements.
Puerto Maldonado is the capital city of the Madre de Dios region and is known as a gateway to the Amazon rainforest.
The Chinese embassy in Peru confirmed in a statement that 41 nationals from Hong Kong were at the hotel at the time of the incident, and none had been hurt.
“The robbers killed a local tour guide and fled after ransacking the place,” an embassy statement read. “No Chinese nationals were hurt but one was robbed of a passport. We have urged the local police force to tighten security for our nationals.”
The Hong Kong Immigration Department said it had received a request for help from the victim who lost the passport, and would arrange the required documents.