Flooded Railway Leaves Thousands Stranded in Peru

26 January 2010 (Last Updated January 26th, 2010 18:30)

At least 1,954 tourists were stranded near Machu Picchu archaeological site in Peru on Tuesday when heavy rains and mudslides flooded its rail services, the only mode of transport to the town from Cuzco city. The railway line, which carries 2,500 tourists daily to the sacred Inca site,

At least 1,954 tourists were stranded near Machu Picchu archaeological site in Peru on Tuesday when heavy rains and mudslides flooded its rail services, the only mode of transport to the town from Cuzco city.

The railway line, which carries 2,500 tourists daily to the sacred Inca site, was suspended by PeruRail because of safety concerns following the nation's heaviest rain in 15 years.

While tourists wait at railway stations and hotels lacking basic needs, helicopters are being used to airlift people out of the chaotic area, with nearly 260 tourists having been rescued.

PeruRail is waiting for the water level in the Vilcanota River, which has risen to its highest level in 25 years, to recede so that it can clear the tracks of rocks and mud and resume rail services.

Apart from the train, the only route to reach the Inca site is to trek nearly 45km through the mountains, which takes an average three or four days.