Machu Picchu region hit by mudslides stranding tourists

I was in Peru's Machu Picchu, one of the modern wonders of the world, just 11 days ago.


It was slightly rainy and foggy but that did not stop us from appreciating the incredible beauty and spiritual energy of the famous archaeological ruins.

But in recent days mudslides have stranded as many as 2,000 tourists in the town of Aguas Calientes that is at the foot of Machu Picchu, according to the ANDINA news agency.

They may be airlifted out by helicopter because the Peru Rail train tracks are blocked by mud and water. So far there are no reports of fatalities.

Peru's leading newspaper El Comercio reports that no tourists will be allowed to enter Machu Picchu for the next three days.

I also found an interesting iReport on CNN and also photos of the mudslides on a site called Living in Peru.

Meanwhile in the town of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca empire, where we stayed three nights, also has been hit hard by the bad weather.

As many as 40 percent of the people there don't have fresh drinking water due to damage to water tanks, according to El Comercio.

There also are reports that flights between Lima and Cusco, where tourists fly to take the train or trek to Machu Picchu, have been temporarily suspended.

Now this natural disaster doesn't compare to what has happened in Haiti.

But it will be devastating for this region of Peru.

In addition to the mudslides, a 5.8 earthquake also hit central Peru and could be felt in Lima, where we stayed 10 days, according to Living in Peru.

I can only imagine how stressful it would have been to be stranded in Peru with 13 students from our group from Columbia College Chicago. We just missed the rain, mudslides and an earthquake.

Still, this type of emergency is more than just a terrible inconvenience for tourists.

I feel for the generous and kind people we met in Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lima. They are so proud of their heritage and culture.

They depend on tourism to support their families. And a natural disaster like this could take weeks or months or longer for the infrastructure - roads, bridges and train tracks - to be rebuilt.

I just pray that they can recover soon.


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