Damage evaluated at Machu Picchu World Heritage Site after torrential rains

19 February 2010 | News story

UNESCO World Heritage Centre

In response to the recent impacts of torrential rains at the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, a technical visit of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre was carried out by Nuria Sanz, Chief of the Latin America and the Caribbean Unit, from 6-10 February in Lima, Peru.

World Heritage Centre staff met with Ministers of Environment and Tourism, Directors of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC) and Servicio Nacional de Areas Protegidas de Perú (SERNANP), Civil defense organization INDECI and the National Institute of Geology, Mines and Metals, and Peruvian technicians and engineers working on the reconstruction of access points connecting Aguas Calientes and Santa Teresa.

Discussions focused on an emergency mission to take place in the following weeks, organized by the World Heritage Centre in close coordination with Advisory Bodies and international experts to address emergencies due to the geological and geomorphologic impacts on built heritage. The World Heritage Centre was informed of the decision of the management unit of the Sanctuary to submit a Decree of Urgency to Congress as well as to proceed with a special protection law for the area. Meetings with representatives of the Government of Peru were undertaken to clarify the governance structure to ensure proper management of the Sanctuary.

The World Heritage Centre is producing an intermediary report on the future developments in the urgent implementation of an emergency plan, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in Decision 33 COM 7B.42, in Seville in June 2009. The emergency plan includes responding to impacts in terms of governance, risk reduction, strategy for proper accessbility, and to identifying a solution for the western access of the property.

The World Heritage Centre expresses its concern that the impact of the vast inundation of water has affected the water-carrying capacity of soils, provoking future landslides and fatalities in the core zone of the property. The full reconstruction of the road and trail, potentially creating uncontrolled access to the Sanctuary and impacting the outstanding universal value of the site, are also concerns.