Some 300 Europeans, more than half of them French, were stranded on Wednesday in Guayaquil, epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Ecuador and the most affected city in Latin America, following an airplane crash, sources said. concordant.
The plane of the Spanish company Air Europa bound for Paris “apparently had a breakdown and it was decided to disembark the passengers. They will be housed here “in Guayaquil (southwest), airport spokesman Daniela Arosemena told AFP. The French Ambassador to Quito, Jean-Baptiste Chauvin, indicated that the problem “was detected on land” and that the plane was carrying around 300 Europeans, including around 170 French, in addition to the Spaniards, Germans and Italians and a dozen other nationalities.
A French-Brazilian passenger, Manuela Picq, university professor, contacted by AFP from Quito, deplored that this “theft which supposedly aimed to protect and take people to a safe place, took them to the epicenter of the epidemic ”in Ecuador. “There is fear, fatigue, frustration,” she said.
69% of cases from Ecuador
The airport spokeswoman said the plane would “return to Quito” without passengers for overhaul and repair, before returning to Guayaquil on Thursday to resume its journey. The flight, organized by the French government, first landed in Quito, where it had loaded passengers, before stopping in Guayaquil, then heading for Paris, according to the embassy.
The diplomatic mission had previously announced that “the objective of this flight was to allow French citizens and other European nationals to return to their countries” from Ecuador, which to date has more than 4,400 cases of Covid-19 , including 242 dead.
The province of Guayas, of which the port of Guayaquil is the capital, concentrates 69% of the cases and Ecuador, a small country of about 17.5 million inhabitants, is the most affected in the region after the gigantic Brazil . The French ambassador said that France had chartered this first charter flight to repatriate Europeans still present in Ecuador. “Once the problem is resolved, the flight will leave,” added the diplomat. Foreign tourists stuck in Ecuador after the government’s decision to declare a state of emergency almost a month ago in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus, close the borders and ban all air links, except for humanitarian flights arriving without passengers.