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Sunday, March 1, 1998 Published at 17:25 GMT



World: Americas

Workers escape massive mudslide in Peru
image: [ Workers managed to scramble to safety at the last minute ]
Workers managed to scramble to safety at the last minute

A mudslide in Peru has knocked out a hydro-electric power station near the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and left some 35 villages and towns without electricity.

The power plant is partially submerged and covered in mud, but rescuers say the 55 workers, who had been feared dead, escaped.


[ image: Rivers swollen by El Niño rains]
Rivers swollen by El Niño rains
Police had feared that the slide had buried the men when it blasted along the Aobamba valley floor.

But a power company spokesman said plant officials who flew over the area had seen the workers clustered on two hilltops.

Officials say the massive mudslide was triggered by rains caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon.


[ image: Another mudslide knocked out the railway to Machu Picchu]
Another mudslide knocked out the railway to Machu Picchu
Debris from it blocked the normal flow of the river until the pressure built up and the temporary dam burst - sending huge floods through the valley, which is 480km (300 miles) south east of the capital, Lima.

The Inca ruins - Peru's main tourist attraction - were not affected directly, although mudslides have also cut the railway line connecting them to the town of Quillabamba.

Officials say that since December, when the El Niño weather started battering Peru, rains have triggered mudslides and floods which have killed at least 200 people and left tens of thousands homeless.


 





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