Mudslides strand tourists in Peru

01:11, Jan 27 2010
Peru
DEADLY:A bridge and a police station are seen destroyed due to the flooding of the Vilcanota river at the entrance to the Inca's Sacred Valley town of Pisac, in Cuzco.
Peru
Villagers from the surrounding areas of the Vilcanota river transport their animals by boat due to the flooding in Cuzco.
Peru
An aerial view of an area affected by the flooding of the Urubamba river in Cuzco.
Machu Picchu
TOURIST ATTRACTION: Machu Picchu, pictured in 2009.
Peru landslide
Floodwaters from Urubamba river rush past buildings in Machu Picchu Pueblo in Cuzco January 26, 2010. Torrential rains and mudslides in Peru have killed four people and stranded some 2,000 tourists.
Peru evacuation
Tourists arrive in Cuzco after being evacuated by rescue helicopters from Machu Picchu Pueblo.
Peru tourists
Tourists gather at a local stadium waiting to be evacuated by rescue helicopters from Machu Picchu Pueblo, in Cuzco.

A mudslide on the famed Inca trail to Machu Picchu killed an Argentine tourist and a Peruvian guide, as authorities evacuated dozens of tourists by helicopter from a flood zone where nearly 2,000 more were still stranded.

Cuzco government spokesman Hernet Moscoso said the Argentine, identified as Lucila Ramballo, 23, and the guide, Washington Huaraya, were in their tents when a slope gave way and their tents were crushed. Three other tourists were injured.

The Inca trail is a popular tourist trek that follows a stone path built by the ancient civilisation from their capital, Cuzco, to the Machu Picchu citadel.

The deaths raised to five the number of people killed by heavy rains that have unleashed floods and landslides and collapsed homes, Moscoso said.

Civil Defense reported that 61 travelers - the sick, the elderly and minors - were flown by government helicopter on Monday from the village of Machu Picchu Pueblo near the citadel.

Another six flights made the trip on Tuesday, said Machu Picchu village spokesman Ruben Baldeon. There was no immediate word on how many people were evacuated.

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Five days of torrential rains in the Cuzco region have destroyed bridges, 250 houses and hundreds of acres (hectares) of crops, while blocking highways and the railway to Machu Picchu.

Rail operator Perurail suspended service on Sunday due to mudslides and the flooding of the Urubamba River. The train is the only means of transportation on the last leg of the trip from Cuzco to the ruins.

Tourists slept in Machu Picchu village's train station and the central plaza after hostels ran out of space, while restaurants raised prices as food became scarce.

Travellers "are angry and worried, and some are getting desperate," said Baldeon, the town spokesman.

Local media reported some tourists were trying to walk back along the tracks to a highway outside Cuzco.

Bisbal said Perurail and the government were working to clear rock and mud from the tracks, and service could resume Wednesday.

The downpours stopped Tuesday morning, but meteorologists predicted light precipitation for the rest of the week.

The rainy season in Peru's southern highlands is expected to last through March.

Cuzco Gov. Hugo Gonzales estimated crop losses and damage to infrastructure, homes and schools could total $172 ($NZ234.21) million in his province alone.

AP