Petroperu oil spill
The oil spill caused by leaks in Petroperu's pipeline has contaminated various regions of PeruREUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Over 3,000 barrels of crude oil spilled across regions of Peru, after state-owned oil company Petroperu's pipeline sprouted a number of leaks in February. The Peruvian government was forced to call for a 60-day state of emergency in the district of Morona in Datem del Maranon province that has been badly affected by the spill, which has entered some of the rivers in the Amazon region.

Deciding to take matters into their own hands, an indigenous community took at least eight public officials hostage in a bid to have the government offer better assistance to them.

Members of the Wampis community of Mayuriaga seized a grounded military helicopter on 6 March to draw the government's attention to the fact that their region was excluded from the emergency response plan, German Velasquez, the president of Petroperu said.

He confirmed that three Petroperu and four Oefa (Agency for Assessment and Environmental Control) officials along with a specialist with the energy and mines ministry were taken to Maruiaga and were in the custody of the community.

While the second leak on 3 February took place in Mayuriaga, the Wampis community from the district was not included in the official list of communities to receive aid.

"It's a mistake that should be corrected as soon as possible," Deputy Culture Minister Patricia Balbuena said of the mix up.

Regional governor Fernando Melendez pointed out that while Mayuriaga was anyway receiving aid, not being present on the list would mean certain communities would find it harder to apply for compensation from the government.

The spill has taken its toll on indigenous communities in the area that were dependent on the river for their food and livelihood. Many tribes have been forced to relocate while those still residing in the region are falling ill from contaminated water resources.

Petroperu which continued to use the 30-year-old pipeline despite numerous leaks over the past few years may face close to $17m (£11.9m) in fines if tests confirmed that the spill affected the health of locals.