The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency in Morona, a district in the Amazonian region of Loreto, due to environmental damage caused by an oil spill from the country's main pipe line. The oil has already entered various rivers in the Amazon region, affecting the lives of a number of indigenous groups that use them.
Over 3,000 barrels of crude oil has spilled from the North Peruvian Pipeline in Cashacaño according to the state-owned oil company Petroperu and entered a number of water bodies including the Chiriaco and Morona rivers in the region.
The emergency called for by the government will last 60 days during which time officials in the Loreto regional government, Datem del Marañon province and the district of Morona will coordinate response and restoration programmes with other government agencies, official daily El Peruano reported.
Petroperu has promised a full clean-up and is also providing food and water but heavy rains in the area is impeding the work and also helping the oil spread faster.
The indigenous Achuar community is suffering the effects of the spill, the worst of which has prevented them from fishing and left them to survive on "bananas and yucca", Teolinda Lopez, an Aguajun told Al Jazeera.
"Sickness is coming, the river is polluted. Before they didn't use to control the fish or what you ate, but the fish are now are sick just like people," she said.
Leader of the emergency-response team for Petro Peru, Victor Huarcaya, however, insisted that the river water was safe to bathe in and the fish could be eaten. "As Petro Peru, we say it's safe to bathe and you can eat the fish, but the population distrusts us because they don't know oil and its behaviour," he said.
This is the third oil spill the 30-year-old pipeline has suffered in the past month and already over 200 people have fallen sick due to the pollution caused. A number of cases of animals falling ill and dying have also been reported.