Mudslides Strand Machu Picchu Tourists

Peru sends helicopters to airlift thousands stuck at ruins
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2010 4:07 AM CST
A family carry their belongings along the Huatanay river in Cuzco, Peru.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Helicopters are ferrying to safety some 2,000 travelers who have been stranded at the country's top tourist destination. The tourists were trapped at the Inca holy site of Macchu Picchu and the surrounding villages since a mudslide Sunday blocked off a railway, the only way in or out of the area. An Argentine tourist and a Peruvian guide were among five people killed by mudslides caused by the nation's worst rain in 15 years, AP reports.

Hostels near the Inca ruins have run out of space and restaurants have hiked their prices as food supplies run low. Stranded people say the situation is becoming increasingly chaotic. "Everyone is fighting for a place on the helicopter," one tour guide said. "The help we've received so far is not enough." The government says 475 tourists have been airlifted out so far and it hopes to reach hundreds more today, weather permitting.

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