‘Desperate’ tourists stranded by India lockdown anxious to return home

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Tourists stranded in India after their holidays were abruptly ended by the country’s coronavirus lockdown have said they are running out of money and hoping their embassies can help them get home.

British tourist Emma Snashford said she and her friend had been kicked out of their hotel, and that when she sought help from officials in London she was told to keep waiting.

They were visiting Jodhpur, a town popular for its royal palaces, forts and temples, but the Briton said they were kicked out of their hotel shortly before India announced the lockdown on March 24. They managed to find a hostel in New Delhi that opened its doors to 25 foreign tourists.

“We have called the (British) embassy and we get put through to London and no one really knows what’s going on. For the last week, we’ve just been told to sit tight, wait,” Ms Snashford said.

Briton Emma Snashford listens as another stranded tourist plays a ukulele
Briton Emma Snashford listens as another stranded tourist plays a ukulele in New Delhi (Shonal Ganguly/AP)

Australian Matthew Chinery had planned for a long vacation, including a trip to the Himalayan Kashmir and learning new sewing techniques he could use for his business back home. But his dream holiday turned nightmarish after the lockdown started.

While in the western city of Goa, popular for its beaches, Mr Chinery said he was kicked out of a hostel because his smoker’s cough resembled a Covid-19 symptom. Other hotels and hostels refused to let him stay unless he had a coronavirus-negative certificate, he said.

So he checked himself into a government hospital, got tested and waited four days in isolation with other suspected cases of the highly infectious disease, he said.

“They don’t let me know it’s out there, so all the crows get to the food first, and it’s cold, and I can’t eat it,” he said.

Mr Chinery is running short of money, supplies and patience.

“Get us the hell out of here,” he said. “We’re Australian citizens. We are stuck here. We’re not here voluntarily. We want to get home.”

Another Australian, DJ Stewart Dufty, arrived in India early last month and is now concerned about his family back home.

“I’m worried about how all of this is affecting them, I mean my mother is in her late seventies. And I do know that once I get back, I’ve got up to two weeks’ quarantine. I’m happy to do that. I don’t want to be a risk for anyone else there,” Mr Dufty said.

He said he was very short of money because he was unable to go to banks to get cash.

The Australian High Commission said it was exploring options for a commercial charter flight for Australians to return.

“There is no guarantee and it will be difficult to achieve,” a statement cautioned.

India has halted all international flights until April 14, when the three-week lockdown is scheduled to end.

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