U.S. helicopters help Peru evacuate hundreds after rail line was cut
Image: Mountain Spirit Institute
Helicopters ferried almost 600 more tourists from the Machu Picchu area after rains slackened Wednesday, leaving up to 1,600 travelers still stranded by mudslides blocking the only land route from the famed Inca citadel.
Authorities said airlifts would continue throughout the week because more tourists had shown up at the evacuation site on foot after completing treks along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, the 15th century Incan fortress that is 8,000 feet above sea level.
Rain-fueled mudslides on Sunday cut the train line that is the only transport link to the remote region atop an Andean mountain ridge. Adding to the worries, tourists flown out Wednesday reported that a rain-swollen river had eroded the site where rescue helicopters are landing.
Stranded tourists charged they are being victimized by price-gouging because food, water and accommodations are scarce in the now isolated Machu Picchu Pueblo, a village of 4,000 residents.