Page last updated at 04:33 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Machu Picchu airlift rescues hundreds of tourists


Machu Picchu tourists airlifted

About 1,400 tourists have been airlifted from near the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru following floods that destroyed road and rail links.

A break in the weather allowed the government to send in helicopters, but about 800 tourists are still stranded.

Tourists' patience has been stretched, with prices for some goods soaring.

The Machu Picchu site, which attracts more than 400,000 visitors a year, will be closed for several weeks after the heaviest rainfall for 15 years.

'An adventure'

Tourists were stranded in the town of Aguas Calientes, at the foot of the ruins, after rainfall severed road and rail links.

Aguas Calientes in Peru, 28 Jan

They have complained at the slow pace of the rescue effort.

The BBC's Dan Collyns in Cusco says the rescue is now hitting its stride and the tourists should be out by the weekend, although the misery will continue for the thousands of Peruvians who have lost their homes and farmland to the floods.

More than 2,500 tourists have been rescued since Monday, officials said.

The evacuation has been done by age, with the elderly and children taken first.

American Karel Schultz, 46, told Associated Press news agency: "It's been an adventure, a bit more than we bargained for."

Some tourists had to rely on locals for food after cash machines dried up.

The government only seems to care about tourists, locals are suffering too
Emily Seminario, Urubamba, Peru

A number of hotels were reported to have increased prices considerably.

The train to the city of Cusco is the only means of transport on the last leg of the trip to the Machu Picchu ruins, and has been suspended since Saturday when it was blocked by one of 40 landslides in the area.

Five people are reported to have died, including two residents killed when their home was destroyed, and a trekker crushed while sleeping in a tent.


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