A Waihī Beach couple have been stranded in their hotel room in India living off rationed bananas for nearly a fortnight and their family are pleading with the Government to come to the rescue.
Ian Stuart, who lives in Auckland, said things had gotten progressively worse since his older brother and sister-in-law Don and Marian Stuart's tour of India was cancelled because of the Covid-19 outbreak and they were left high and dry.
Some of their tour group of eight, including their tour guide, managed to get a flight back to New Zealand, but Don, 72 and Marian Stuart, 69, and Hamilton couple John and Jo Davidson were stranded in New Delhi, Ian said.
"So far two return flights Don and Marian had booked were cancelled and New Delhi airport is now closed until midnight on April 14."
Stuart said the hotel restaurant was closed, and although the couple were previously allowed to walk to a nearby convenience store to buy two-minute noodles, they are now confined to their hotel room.
"Even a walk to the hotel lobby ends with a strongly worded order given at gunpoint from armed police and security guards to return to their hotel room.
"Food is in short supply. Don and Marian were delivered a small bunch of bananas several days ago, but they had to be carefully rationed. They can order room service [but] it's pretty meagre offerings."
Stuart said the stranded couple shared a lunch of half a banana on toast and a cup of tea each on Monday.
"The other half of the banana had to be saved for their next meal," he said.
Stuart said he and his niece Morag Stuart-Lavich, who lives in Auckland, have been in daily contact with her distraught parents through emails and WhatsApp.
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"Don and Marian are very stoic and not highly emotional people, but seeing them barely holding it together and at breaking point is heartbreaking.
"It's really tough as they are at the very limit of their emotional endurance," Stuart said.
His brother Don, who ran his own law practice in Waihī for 40 years, had a quadruple heart-bypass several years ago, Stuart said.
"Being confined to their hotel room, with limited food and little sleep, has raised their stress to dangerous levels and we don't know how much longer they can take it," he said.
"We're a close-knit family and we're all very concerned about their physical and emotional wellbeing."
Marian marked her 69th birthday on March 23 in her hotel room.
Another brother Pat is a Tauranga lawyer, sister Linda and brother Tony live in Christchurch and the couple's son Duncan lives in Katikati.
"We know it's a tall order but surely something can be done to bring them home," he said.
"Other countries are repatriating their citizens. The German government has chartered Air New Zealand flights to do that and we know there are plenty of Air New Zealand planes sitting on the tarmac at Auckland Airport," Stuart said.
"Singapore is also allowing flights to refuel at Changi airport and take on new crew and catering. So we are asking our Prime Minister not to leave Don and Marian and others also stranded in India feeling abandoned and forgotten."
Stuart said it was not an issue of money.
"Don and Marian are not freeloaders who are asking for something for nothing. They are happy to pay for their flights but they desperately need help."