TRAPPED – Tourists Stuck in RIOT Island!

Australian tourists are worried they’ll be abandoned on the small vacation islands around French-controlled New Caledonia, as civil unrest have shut down the airports and other transportation alternatives across the territory. The riots, which erupted into violence last week in response to unpopular changes in electoral laws, are now in their second week.

The street chaos has so far caused the deaths of six people and seen several roadblocks and car set ablaze around the territory’s capitol of Noumea.

One trapped holidaymaker, a woman from Sidney named Sarah Melrose, said that the situation feels “unsafe.” Nine days after her scheduled flight for home, the thirty-five year-old Melrose is still waiting on tenterhooks for instructions from repatriation officials from the DFTA (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). She has been on Noumea since May 8, before the riots began, and from there hopped islands to the tiny Isle of Pines, a small 15-acre plot of land jutting out of the Pacific to the southeast of Noumea.

The riots have brought all travel and commerce in the territory to a standstill. Nine days on, Melrose says that the hotels on the Isle of Pines are are running out of food.

The DFTA has yet to furnish Melrose with any details of the extraction plans. So far, the DFTA has told Melrose and her compatriots that extraction flights are only available to Australians “already in Noumea.” Melrose says that she’s contacting the DFTA every day, but she isn’t sure they can grasp her inability to get to Noumea, which means that she and other tourists in the same predicament may simply be forgotten.

Melrose estimates that there are ten other Australians trapped with her on the Isle of Pines, with “many more” trapped on smaller islands in the area.

Penny Wong, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that Australia is waiting on approval for extraction efforts, including flight clearances. It expects to run more extraction flights soon.