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Tourists Stranded in New Caledonia Amid Unrest

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Amid deadly unrest in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, hundreds of Australian and New Zealand travellers find themselves stranded, awaiting air travel clearance from French authorities. The Nouméa-La Tontouta airport, vital for international flights, remains closed due to ongoing violent protests against voting reforms.

The top French official in New Caledonia, Louis Le Franc, stated that it would take several days for a police operation to secure the road to the airport. Despite efforts to dismantle 76 roadblocks, pro-independence groups have pledged to maintain the barriers, paralyzing the territory.

With the airport shutdown, approximately 3,000 tourists, including over 300 Australians and nearly 250 New Zealanders, are trapped in New Caledonia. Both the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand are coordinating evacuation efforts while awaiting French approval.

Travellers like Mike Lightfoot and Tonia Scholes have described the harrowing situation on the ground, highlighting concerns over safety and limited food supplies. Lightfoot narrated a distressing incident during rioting when his wife fell ill, escalating their need for medical attention amidst chaos.

Sophie Jones Bradshaw, stranded in the turmoil while separated from her family, is among those experiencing the devastation firsthand. She painted a grim picture of half of Nouméa being burnt, with homes and businesses ravaged.

As the unrest continues, tourists in New Caledonia remain hopeful for a swift evacuation to escape the violence and turmoil that has gripped the territory. The international community closely watches as efforts are made to ensure the safety and security of those stranded in the troubled region.

Rachel Adams

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