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Originally published Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:56 PM

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Machu Picchu to reopen earlier than expected after storms

The Machu Picchu ruins, closed after storms cut railway access, are expected to open in three weeks, says Peru's transport minister

Peru's renowned ruins of Machu Picchu will reopen to the public sooner than expected — in three weeks — the country's transportation minister said Friday.

Torrential rainstorms in late January washed out rail lines, the only access to the historic Inca citadel besides days-long hiking.

Minister of Transport Enrique Cornejo told the Peruvian news service Andina that Machu Picchu will be opened in three weeks, not the eight weeks forecast earlier this week. Temporary bridges are being installed in some spots where train tracks were washed out to restore part of the train service.

Machu Picchu was not damaged by the storms, but flooding and mudslides have left thousands homeless in the Cusco region and damaged agricultural areas. About 4,000 tourists and locals were evacuated by helicopter in late January after being stranded near Machu Picchu.

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