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Bad Weather in Cusco, Peru Continues

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, January 28, 2010

The tremendous amounts of rain which caused various land and rock slides as well as flooding in several areas of Cusco and Apurímac remains a problem for many citizens and tourists.  Many roads remained closed off, in Aguas Calientes the road leading to the hydroelectric plant has been blocked.

In the city of Aguas Calientes (the town located just at the foot of Machu Picchu) it is estimated that about 1,600 tourists remain stranded as they await extraction by helicopter from the area.  Since the heavy raining let up earlier this week several helicopters from the Peruvian military, police, as well as private helicopters have been conducting flight evacuation runs in the Sacred Valley region.  Many towns like Pisaq and Ollantaytambo have also had their roads blocked off and their bridges damaged.  Electricity to the region has been severed as many towns in the Valley are without electricity.  Such is the situation in Aguas Calientes where the remaining tourists have found themselves in a difficult situation, price gouging ($3.50 for a bottle of water, 5 times what it actually costs), low food rations, loss of electricity are but just a few of the problems they currently face.



The number of stranded in Aguas Calientes has grown during the week as more tourists continue to enter the town via the Inca trails.  On Wednesday it was reported that some 250 tourists entered Aguas Calientes via the trails.  Meanwhile the helicopters continue to extract people out of the town but it is a slow process as only 20 people can fit within the helicopters (the Russian MI-17, a cargo helicopter currently in-service in Peruvian Army).  Currently there are roughly 10 helicopters operating in the evacuation of tourists.  The Tourism Minister stated to the press that it takes an estimated 1 hour to evacuate 120 individuals via helicopter.  The rescue operations are scheduled to continue throughout the week as they ferry tourists back to the city of Cusco.  According to Peruvian officials the mountainous and sub-tropical terrain of the region where Machu Picchu is located has also made it difficult for helicopters flying in and out of the area, not to mention the altitude (Machu Picchu stands at nearly 8,000 ft - 2,340 meters).  CNN has updated info on their page here: Link.



Reports indicated 8 deaths including 1 foriegn tourist, as well as thousands of people homeless.  Many people continue to wonder just how much longer they will have to endure the bad weather.

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