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Tourists stranded near Machu Picchu

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About 1,400 tourists and local residents were stranded Thursday near Peru’s famed Inca ruins of Machu Picchu after an overnight landslide knocked out 400 meters (436 yards) of train track, blocking a primary route into the area, authorities said.

The avalanche of mud and rocks was unleashed late Wednesday by accumulated runoff from the Veronica mountain peak, Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism said in a statement.

The landslide also caused the Vilcanota River and a tributary stream to overflow, the statement said, adding that the government was planning to send helicopters to evacuate tourists.

"There are no people hurt," Aurora Prato, a PeruRail spokeswoman, told The Associated Press.

But she said about 1,400 passengers, including tourists and local commuters, were waiting for transport in Aguas Calientes, a small town in the gorge below the archaeological site.

She said it was not immediately clear how long it would take to restore train service. Landslides occur almost every year around the site and are usually cleared within a day or two.

PeruRail said in a statement that about 400 meters (1,312 feet) of track was knocked out, part of the affected rail was buried under seven meters (23 feet) of earth, and another stretch of track was under water.

Machu Picchu, Peru’s top tourist destination, sits atop a craggy peak in a jungle-shrouded valley 550 kilometers (315 miles) southeast of Lima in the southern Andes.

Visitors usually reach Machu Picchu from Cuzco, 70 kilometers (44 miles) to the southeast, either by a direct, five-hour train ride to Aguas Calientes, or by catching the train in Ollantaytambo, which lies in the Sacred Valley midway between the two locations.

The only other route is by foot; organized hikes take two to four days.

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Originally from Denmark, Carsten returned to Peru in 2002 with his wife and eldest son. He started LivinginPeru.com in 2005, among other ventures in Peru. Before this, Carsten has worked in tourism, living in France, Sicily, and the U.S., and promoted bands like Metallica, Def Leppard and U2 for PolyGram Records (now Universal Music). Carsten loves pisco sours, Peru’s cuisine, and traveling with his family within Peru, a country that he believes is the land of opportunities.