Six tourists have been moved to an ashram in India after they were discovered self-isolating in a cave following the introduction of the country's strict lockdown on 24 March.

The four men and two women, including French, Ukrainian, Turkish, Nepalese and American citizens, had been self-isolating in a cave in the northern Indian city of Rishikesh, otherwise known as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, and the city that inspired the Beatles' White Album. According to the BBC, the tourists had been staying in hostels and hotels since arriving in the country separately last year but had run into financial difficulties by the time total lockdown was introduced. 

Indian city of Rishikesh
The tourists had tried to sit out the lockdown in a cave in Rishikesh ©Getty Images/EyeEm

"Before the lockdown began, they were living in a hotel in the Muni Ki Reti region but they moved to the cave after they ran out of money," police inspector Rajendra Singh Kathait confirmed to Agence France-Presse. "However, they had saved some money to buy food and other supplies."

AFP report all six tourists tested negative for COVID-19 but they have since been moved to an ashram in the city, where they will be quarantined for 14 days. Under India's rules, all nonessential outings are banned until 3 May.

The lockdown has seen a number of international tourists stranded in the country after their vacations were cut short. To help them return home, India's Ministry of Tourism have launched a special website called "Stranded in India" that connects tourists with repatriation services. Dedicated hotlines have been established in each state and the agency is working alongside foreign embassies to coordinate repatriation flights.

Australian citizens return to Adelaide airport on repatriation flight from India
Australian citizens return to Adelaide airport on a Lion Air repatriation flight carrying nearly 400 passengers ©Tracey Nearmy/Stringer/Getty Images

"We are truly committed towards the safety of one and all," a statement on the website reads. "If you are a foreign traveller stranded anywhere in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help you get in touch with the concerned authorities."

According to the UK Foreign Office, 17 charter flights are repatriating around 4000 British citizens between 17 and 27 April, while around 2000 Australians have returned home on private charter flights since 12 April.  The US State Department has confirmed that 4000 Americans have returned from India since March, and efforts are being made to return about 6000 more. 

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