Workers In Peru Race To Reopen Machu Picchu After Floods

Workers in Peru race to reopen Machu Picchu after floods

Machu Picchu, Per, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 27th Jan, 2022 ) :Teams of workers raced Wednesday to clear mud and debris from the only transport access to the jewel of Peru's tourism sector, Machu Picchu, following torrential rain in the Andes.

Heavy downfalls on Friday caused the Alcamayo river that runs through the small tourist town of Machu Picchu Pueblo -- at the foot of the mountain that boasts the world famous Inca citadel -- to burst its banks.

Almost 900 tourists were evacuated from the town after flooding destroyed many homes and left one person missing, the tourism ministry said.

Damage to the train tracks that serve as the main transport access to the town has made it very difficult for tourists to reach the site.

"This will last a few more days because after the clean-up we have to prepare a bridge so that tourists can enter Machu Picchu, and the local population too," said the town's mayor Darwin Baca.

"We are asking the regional and central governments to help us with this project because we feel it when Machu Picchu closes. Because it's not just one region that lives off tourism, many regions do," said Baca.

The vast majority of visitors to Machu Picchu usually arrive at the town by train, either from Ollantaytambo, 32 kilometers away, or the former Inca capital of Cusco city, 72 kilometers away.

The site of the citadel is not closed but with the train tracks damaged, the only way to access the town is to take a bus to a place called Hidroelectrica -- more than six hours from Cusco city -- and then walk eight kilometers through the jungle along the Ruta Amazonica.

Just 300 to 400 people a day have managed to access Machu Picchu that way, compared to the 1,200 daily visitors when the train service is working.

Hotels and restaurants throughout the Cusco region have been affected.

Even as far away as in the capital Lima, tourism has been hit.

When access to Machu Picchu is affected "there are unfortunate repercussions on the economy and tourism sector" in the whole country, said Baca.

Peru Rail, one of the two railway companies serving the town of 5,000 people, said services would remain suspended until Thursday.

Some 447,800 people visited the citadel in 2021, a fraction of the 1.5 million yearly visitors before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The citadel was closed for almost eight months in 2020 due to the pandemic, costing the Cusco region $1.4 billion due to the loss of tourism revenue.