Peru Deports 5 Tourists Accused of Damaging Machu Picchu Temple

The Peruvian authorities deported five tourists and arrested a sixth accused of damaging a temple at Machu Picchu, the famous Incan ruins in the Andes, the National Police said.

The tourists were caught just before 6 a.m. on Sunday by staff members who work at the archaeological park, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement on Tuesday, identifying them as four men and two women from Argentina, Chile, Brazil and France.

The ministry said there was evidence that the group had sneaked into the site illegally on Saturday night and damaged a stone wall in the Temple of the Sun by causing a piece to fall about 20 feet and crack the floor. Fecal matter was also found at the site.

On Wednesday, five of the tourists were deported to Bolivia, the National Police of Peru said. An Argentine tourist, Nahuel Gómez, 28, faced a charge of committing a crime against cultural heritage and remained in custody in Peru.

The Cusco office of the Ministry of Culture said in a statement Wednesday that Mr. Gómez had admitted causing damage to the temple wall and entering the park illegally before dawn.

José Bastante, the chief of archaeological work at Machu Picchu, called on the authorities to quickly determine responsibility and punish the offense.

The Ministry of Culture, condemning the tourists’ conduct, said that domestic and foreign visitors alike should respect and protect Peru’s archaeological heritage.

Machu Picchu, perched 8,000 feet above sea level and overlooking chasms that descend into jungle, attracts thousands of daily visitors and has become one of the world’s most recognizable tourist sites. It was a religious and political center for the Incan state after its construction in the 15th century and contains more than 200 structures and spectacular stonework and architecture.

The Temple of the Sun is a semicircular structure constructed around a large boulder on the lower part of a hill and aligned so that when summer solstice occurs, light shines through a window and aligns with both the boulder and the top of a nearby mountain peak. After the Spanish conquest of the Incas, the remote site was largely abandoned.

More than 450 years later, the growing popularity of Machu Picchu is raising concerns among Peruvian officials and archaeologists who hope to protect the UNESCO world heritage site. Several tourists were reportedly detained for taking nude photos at the site in 2014, and officials have warned tourists not to take pieces of debris as souvenirs.

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