LIMA, Peru — Heavy rains triggered mudslides near the famed Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in southern Peru on Saturday, killing at least six people. Five others were missing and feared dead.
About 400 tourists were stranded when the mudslides buried a rail line and destroyed seven houses in the town of Aguas Calientes, below the ruins. The rail line is the only route in or out of the town.
President Alejandro Toledo was at Machu Picchu, about 300 miles southeast of the capital, Lima, when the mudslide hit and was coordinating rescue efforts, a Government Palace communique said.
At least seven houses were swept away, Toledo told Radioprogramas. He said 11 people were missing, but that was before a local official announced that six bodies had been found.
"I have given urgent instructions to repair the rail line to reestablish transit," Toledo told the radio station. "I know that we cannot give back life, but we will do everything at least to recover the bodies."
Hector Olivera, a town councilman, told radio reporters later that six bodies had been recovered and that 1,000 to 1,500 feet of rail track was buried.
At the time, Toledo was in the area acting as a tour guide for the Discovery Travel Channel, which is filming a special on Peru.
Machu Picchu was used as a refuge by the Inca rulers until Spanish soldiers arrived in 1532 and began toppling their empire.
The partially reconstructed site in the mountains is South America's top archeological site. It draws 300,000 foreign visitors a year.