Peru: 1,400 tourists still stranded in Machu Picchu, Urubamba valley endangered

Isabel Guerra

Some 1,400 tourists remain stranded in Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu town), waiting for the helicopters that are supposed to transport them to Ollantaytambo.

Peruvian authorities reported that 475 stranded tourists were evacuated Tuesday and that they expect to evacuate another 800 today, provided that the weather conditions allow air operations. Peru’s Tourism Minister, Martin Perez, has assured that 11 helicopters will work in the airlift.

“We have five helicopters from our Armed Forces. four from the US Embassy and two from Helicuzco," Perez said.

Perez thanked Brazil, Colombia and Chile for offering to send more helicopters, but he said that the geographic conditions do not allow the simultaneous operation of more than four aircrafts.

He also added that the stadium in Ollantaytambo, that was being used as a landing point is now  flooded too, so they will find another spot today (Wednesday).

The weather is a big issue, and local residents are reporting on Twitter (@voxurubamba, @Apu_Rimak, and many others) that it was still raining in the area earlier today, which could complicate the rescue operations scheduled.

Reactions from the stranded tourists express the drama they are currently facing.

As an example, Noelia Carranzo, an Uruguayan tourist, says “We have been given just a bit of food, and there are many rumours about irregular things.”

The “irregular things” she refers to is the growing rumor that some people is paying up to US  $500 to be airlifted first. This rumor has been denied by authorities.

But it’s not only Machu Picchu: Urubamba and Yucay, located in the Sacred Valley (on the way to Machu Picchu), are suffering under the rage of nature, and local residents are fearing an even bigger flood.

Twitter user @voxurubamba reported early this morning that it’s raining very heavily again, and claims that help has yet to arrive.

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