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Landslide warning at Macchu Picchu

Geologists have found the land on the steep slope at the back of the fortress is sliding down at a rate of a centimetre a month

Unesco has issued a warning that Macchu Picchu, the 14th-century fortified stone city and Peru’s only intact Inca ruin, may be added to its list of endangered sites because of the damage being caused by the 400,000 tourists who visit every year. Access to Machu Picchu is currently limited to travel by foot or by train, although there are plans to build a road from Cuzco and a funicular from the valley to the top of Machu Picchu. David Ugarte, speaking on behalf of the Peruvian government’s National Institute for Culture (INC), the body that manages the site, said that Unesco has exaggerated the problems caused by visitors. Unesco has also said that the site is threatened by a potential landslide as the steep slopes on which it is situated are being eroded by heavy rains, and forest fires have destabilised the environment. Geologists from the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University, Japan, have found the land on the steep slope at the back of the fortress is sliding down at a rate of a centimetre a month. Javier Lambarri, director of the INC, firmly dismisses Unesco’s concerns, saying that the ruins are monitored for seismic activity and that there is no imminent danger.