Peru repair of Machu Picchu train to take 2 months

Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:44pm EST
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By Alfredo Loayza

MACHU PICCHU, Peru (Reuters) - The last of about 4,000 tourists stranded by floods and mudslides near Peru's Incan citadel Machu Picchu waited to be airlifted on Friday, as travelers were told it would likely take some two months to re-establish train service to the famous ruins.

Authorities said they expected to complete the evacuation of the roughly 800 tourists late on Friday.

They have been stuck near the World Heritage Site since the heaviest rains in the region in 15 years flooded the area over the weekend, killing five people.

The torrential rains triggered mudslides that washed away parts of the only train line that connects the ruins with the nearby city of Cusco.

In places, bits of twisted track plunged into rivers of muddy water, which had risen with the rains.

Officials said it would likely take seven weeks to re-establish rail service, but that they were looking at other ways to reach Peru's top tourist draw.

Apart from the train, the only ways to reach the ancient Incan site is to trek some 28 miles through steep mountain passes, or fly by helicopter.

Authorities closed the hiking trail earlier this week.   Continued...

<p>Tourists wait at the train station for evacuation by helicopter in Machu Picchu January 29, 2010. Hundreds of tourists emerged from a gruelling 28 mile (45 km) trek along Peru's Inca trail on Thursday to find the ancient Machu Picchu ruins cut off by floods and mudslides, and joined the 1,200 or so travellers waiting to be airlifted out. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo</p>