PERU

Spanish woman and local guide struck by lightning at Machu Picchu

Couple join long list of tourists who have suffered mishaps at ancient Inca site

There have been several serious accidents at Machu Picchu over the years.
There have been several serious accidents at Machu Picchu over the years.MARINA GARCÍA BURGOS

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A Spanish tourist and her Peruvian guide were injured after they were struck by lightning while visiting the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu on Monday, say local authorities in Cusco.

María Kirina Méndez Hernández suffered bruising on her face and body after she was thrown against a rock wall when she was struck by the bolt, the authorities said in a statement.

Zuli Salas Soto, a local guide, was bruised on her arm and legs after falling five meters when she was struck by lightning.

The bolt struck at 3.55pm local time close to the sites known as the Three Windows and the Botanical Garden, located in the Machu Picchu archeological site.

The complex, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is considered sacred by many Peruvians

The two women were rescued by workers from Cusco’s culture department who took them to a nearby medical center.

The citadel, located 2,400 meters above sea level, was built by the Incas around 1450 and abandoned roughly a century later after the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. The complex, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is considered sacred by many Peruvians, and is perched atop a crest in the Andes mountains with impressive views of surrounding peaks as well as a river valley more than 350 meters below.

There have been several accidetnts over recent years on the Huayna Pichu mountain opposite the site and the surrounding area: earlier this year, a German tourist died after slipping from a ledge and falling 50 meters while trying to take a photo.

In 2004, a Russian tourist died after being struck by lightning while in 2011, an Australian man died inside a tower at Machu Picchu after suffering a suspected heart attack.

In another incident in January 2013, a US tourist died after falling down a ravine while hiking a lower section of the Inca Trail.

A month later, a German couple were visiting Machu Picchu when a rock fell on top of them. The man fell down a slope to his death, while his girlfriend was injured but survived, according to UPI.

That August, an Argentinean tourist died after falling into an abyss near Machu Picchu. Later in the year, two tourists, from Argentina and Denmark, died after suffering heart attacks while visiting the site.

In May 2014, a Belgian man died while ascending Huayna Picchu. Also in 2014, more than a dozen people were arrested at Peru’s most famous tourist site for posing nude in front of the mysterious citadel.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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