Peru’s Presidential Cabinet Chief Javier Velásquez announced a 60-day state of emergency in Peru’s Cusco and Apurímac departments on Monday as heavy rainfall and mudslides batter the southern Andean region. The storms have flooded the Vilcanota river, which blocked the railway between Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru’s sacred Inca citadel and top tourist attraction.
“We’ll go to Cusco tomorrow to determine the first measures to take,” state news agency Andina reported Velásquez saying. “With the Civil Defense and ministers we will do a general evaluation of the area and make decisions and take appropriate action.”
British-owned Perurail suspended services to Machu Picchu Pueblo – the town below the citadel – stranding some 2,000 tourists. Defense Minister Rafael Rey told Radio Programas Peru that police and army helicopters were sent to evacuate the tourists and local residents.
The head of Machu Picchu’s Archeological Site, Fernando Astete, said there was no damage to the citadel.
According to the National Meteorology and Hydrology Institute, or Senamhi, the rainfall is the heaviest in the region in 15 years. Senamhi expects the rains to continue this week.