Lima, Jan 21 (EFE).- Torrential rains in Peru’s southern highland region of Cusco caused a river to burst its banks on Friday morning and spill mud and rocks onto the streets of Aguas Calientes, a small tourist town located at the foot of the world-famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
One person was injured and another is missing, a home was destroyed and four others were affected by the flooding and three commercial establishments were damaged, according to the Regional Emergency Operations Center.
“This huaico (mudslide), as you can see, is of considerable size,” the mayor of Aguas Calientes (also known as Machupicchu), Darwin Baca, told reporters. “Regrettably, it directly affected some homes and a resident is possibly missing.”
The Alcamayo River burst its banks at around 6.05 am due to heavy rain on Thursday night and sent a large mass of earth, rocks and debris into the town, which is used by tourists as a base for their journey up to the Machu Picchu archaeological park.
The mudslide eventually reached the Vilcanota River, which borders Aguas Calientes.
Images uploaded to social media showed the mud invading the town’s streets, the first floors of several homes, hotels and restaurants and the railroad tracks that are used to take tourists to the Inca citadel.
Rail operations have been suspended, railway operator PeruRail said in a statement, adding that no passengers or workers were injured.
The National Civil Defense Institute for its part said in a statement that authorities are assessing the safety conditions of uncollapsed bridges with a view to transporting tourists and local residents to Ollantaytambo, a town located 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Machu Picchu.
Local residents are carrying out clean-up work in the town in tandem with National Police personnel, who also are conducting a search-and-rescue effort.
Machu Picchu, made famous by the 1911 expedition of US explorer Hiram Bingham, was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1983. EFE