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Police, airport staff in Ecuador park vehicles on runway to prevent planes from landing

Police in Ecuador have blockaded a major runway to stop foreign planes from landing after international flights were banned to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The idea was from Guayaquil city Mayor Cynthia Viteri who ordered municipal workers, including police, to make their way onto the runway of José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil so their vehicles could stop Iberia Airbus A340 traveling from Madrid and a KLM Boeing 777 from Amsterdam from landing.

In footage filmed by helicopter and shared on social media, the workers are seen standing next to their municipal vehicles parked on either side of the runway.

According to Daily Mail, the plane was forced to divert to the country’s capital, Quito.

The local media reported that the two planes with the only crew had been sent to Ecuador to pick up their citizens in the country to take them home.

Prosecutors are believed to be investigating the incident, with the Ministry of Transport and Public Works blasting the Guayaquil City Council for clamping down on air travel.

In a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Viteri defended her actions and questioned why the country’s Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner and Transport Minister Gabriel Martínez allowed the planes to land, which in her view endangered the city’s residents, El Comercio reported.

She said she would do it again to protect the city from the arrival of people who may have coronavirus.

Ecuador has suffered 168 confirmed cases of the virus and three deaths.