Thousands of tourists trapped at Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley cut off, Rescue plans need re-think

January 26th, 2010

Somewhere between 2000 and 3000 tourists are trapped in Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, with plans to evacuate getting ever more complicated.

Read additional up to the minute news here

(Video: filmshootr – CNN)

More than 2000 tourists are trapped at Machu Picchu, and many more in the Sacred Valley towns of Ollantaytambo, Urubamba, Calca and Pisac.

Torrential rains on a scale not seen in decades, seen across Peru in recent weeks because of a small El Niño effect, have hit southern Peru hard these particularly in the past two days.

Wobbly bridge at Pisaq yesterday (Roxabel Ramón)

Wobbly bridge at Pisaq yesterday (Roxabel Ramón)

Rail and road connections have been wiped out, those roads not under many feet of water are blocked by landslides and the bridges the cross the river in the town – each and every one of them according to local reports – have now been washed out.

The end result is that not is the heavily touristed Sacred Valley area completely cut off from Cusco, but towns in the valley appear to have been cut off from one another.




As well as locals, who claim not to have seen such weather in decades, there are now many thousands of tourists trapped at Machu Picchu but also in towns across the valley.

Ten helicopters have been sent to the region to evacuate Machu Picchu – the plan being to airlift the stranded to Ollantaytambo, where they would make a slow journey to Pisaq and then Cusco via damage roads held open by heavy machinery.

However, Ollantaytambo has now also found itself cut off as local roads – the parts not blocked at least – are now submerged. Ollantaytambo was also host to the last bridge in the valley that wasn’t destroyed. It has now lost that honour.

Water has also washed out power cables leaving the historic town and supposed rescue point completely without power.

With other bridges out, including the important connection from Cusco to Pisaq, help by road is out of the question.

Read the lastest updates here

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