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Peru Mudslides Bury Power Plant

March 1, 1998

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Mudslides buried a power plant near the famed Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, but 55 workers apparently escaped to hilltops, a power plant official said Saturday.

Plant officials who flew over the area, 300 miles southwest of Lima, on Saturday saw workers clustered on two nearby hilltops, said Luis Gallardo, spokesman for the buried Machu Picchu Electrical Station.

The 55 men _ 25 electrical workers at the plant and 30 construction workers dredging a nearby channel _ had been reported missing.

The mudslides, caused by El Nino-driven rains, struck late Friday and early Saturday, sending tons of mud on the plant, 12 miles north of Machu Picchu in the department of Cusco.

Gallardo said 35 villages and towns in the area are without electricity. The mudslides blocked train tracks connecting the ruins to the town of Quillabamba, but the tracks from Cusco to Machu Picchu were unaffected, he said.

El Nino rains have caused mudslides and floods across Peru since mid-December, killing at least 200 people and forcing tens of thousands from their homes, according to civil defense officials.

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