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Mudslides Around Peru's  Machu Picchu Ruins Kill at Least 6 - 2004-04-11

Mudslides around Peru's Machu Picchu ruins have killed at least six people and some 1,500 tourists trapped as road and rail transit was cut off at the site. The government is mounting an air bridge to fly the trapped visitors out of the site.

Unexpectedly heavy rains caused mudslides to dump into the river running beside the only rail and road transport to the ruins. The resulting flood blocked the road and destroyed six houses at the town of Aguas Calientes, or Hot Waters, near the entrance to the ruins.

Officials said at least five people are still missing.

President Alejandro Toledo happened to be at the site for a travel documentary and promised to restore transportation out of the site as soon as possible. Meanwhile the government has mounted an airlift from the site to rescue the stranded tourists.

The first of two avalanche's hit the town itself. A second mudslide later cut off rail transport from the historic Inca capital of Cuzco to the Machu Picchu site, some 500 kilometers southeast of the capital, Lima. The government must remove huge boulders from the tracks according to reports from the area.

The Machu Picchu citadel which was built deep in the Amazon jungle by the Inca rulers before 1552 has drawn some 300,000 visitors every year.