LIMA – Heavy downpours falling in the southern region of Cuzco, Peru’s main tourist destination, has left at least three people dead, close to a hundred families homeless and some 2,000 tourists stranded, authorities said Monday.
“The rain keeps coming down as it has done continuously for 18 hours. Floods from overflowing rivers are imminent, homes have collapsed and their inhabitants have to be relocated,” the mayor of Cuzco city, Luis Florez, told RPP radio.
At the same time, more than 1,950 tourists have been left stranded near the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu due to the blockage of a railroad connecting the site with Cuzco, but they have enough food and supplies “for three or four days,” Peruvian Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Martin Perez told the network.
“We don’t have the means to deal with the problem, the regional government is attending to the emergency in eight provinces, since out of the 13 there are eight with mudslides, where train service has been suspended and from 400 to 500 tourists are stranded,” Mayor Florez said, urging officials in Lima to issue a disaster declaration for the affected area.
A mother and her baby died Sunday in Cuzco when their home collapsed in the heavy rains, while another person died and 43 were injured when a bus ran off the road near the boundary between Cuzco and the neighboring region of Apurimac, RPP said, though without directly linking the accident to the weather.
Perez said that flights have been suspended to Cuzco because of the bad weather, and though an attempt was made to clear the railroad tracks, “unfortunately the river kept rising and made the work very difficult.”
He said he spoke with Interior Minister Octavio Salazar about establishing an air shuttle to evacuate the children and elderly people of the area.
Meanwhile in the central part of the country, train service was suspended between the cities of Huancayo and Huancavelica because of mudslides.
The president of the Huancavelica region, Federico Salas, said Sunday on CPN Radio that mudslides and flooding from swollen rivers have left 300 people homeless in that Andean area.
Government meteorologists forecast that heavy rains will continue to fall until Tuesday in 15 of Peru’s 25 regions, including Lima, Cuzco, Huancavelica, Lambayeque and San Martin. EFE