A mudslide on the famed Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru killed an Argentine tourist and a Peruvian guide Tuesday, as authorities evacuated dozens of tourists by helicopter from a flood zone where nearly 2,000 more were still stranded.
Lucia Ramallo, 23, and her guide, Washington Huaraya, were in their tents when a slope gave way, crushing the tents, said Hernet Moscoso, a spokesman for the government of the Cuzco region where the trail is located. Three other tourists were injured.
Authorities closed the trail, a popular tourist trek that follows a stone path built by the ancient Inca civilization from their capital, Cuzco, to the Machu Picchu citadel.
The deaths raised to five the number of people killed by heavy rains that have caused floods and landslides and collapsed homes, Moscoso said.
Peru's civil defence department reported that 61 travellers — the sick, the elderly and minors — were flown out by government helicopter Monday from the village of Machu Picchu Pueblo near the citadel.
Hundreds of tourists were caught in the village because mudslides blocked the railway to the city of Cuzco, which is the only way in or out of the Machu Picchu area.
Peruvian and U.S. authorities sent four Peruvian military helicopters and four U.S. counternarcotics helicopters to bolster rescue efforts Tuesday. The U.S. helicopters are based in Peru and normally used for drug interdiction and police training.
Rail operator Perurail, which suspended train service Sunday because of mudslides and the flooding of the Urubamba River, also rented two helicopters to ferry in supplies and evacuate tourists, the company said in a statement.
Some 400 Americans, 700 Argentines, 309 Chileans and 30 Uruguayans were stranded in Machu Picchu Pueblo, according to those countries' embassies in Lima.
Five days of torrential rains in the Cuzco region have destroyed bridges, 250 houses and hundreds of hectares of crops while blocking highways and the railway to Machu Picchu.