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Helicopters ferry tourists stranded at Machu Picchu

Helicopters ferried to safety Wednesday almost 600 tourists stranded for three days near Machu Picchu, and authorities say up to 1,600 travelers remain at Peru's famed citadel following mudslides that cut off the rail route out.

The airlifts will continue throughout the week as more tourists reach the evacuation site high in the Andes mountains by foot, officials said.

Mudslides destroyed sections of the Machu Picchu railway Sunday, the only form of transit in or out of the area. Stranded tourists have faced price-gouging due to scarce food, water and accommodations in Machu Picchu Pueblo, a village of 4,000.

"Everyone is safe, though obviously uncomfortable. They are sleeping in tents, and the food gets there late, but what's important is that they are safe," Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde said.

Choppers have ferried 1,070 people out of the village since Tuesday, including 595 on Wednesday, but Garcia Belaunde says 1,500 to 1,600 tourists remain as more show up each day.

Downpours let up Wednesday, but meteorologists forecast moderate rain for the rest of the week.

Helicopters ferry tourists stranded at Machu Picchu 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 10:10pm]
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