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Government of Peru Reopens Machu Picchu After 2 Month Closure
The citadel of Machu Picchu is seen during its reopening in Cuzco, Peru, Thursday, April 1, 2010. Peruvian officials celebrated the reopening of the Inca citadel after a two-month closure caused by flooding. AP Photo/Karel Navarro.
MACHU PICCHU (AP).- The famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu reopened to tourists Thursday after a two-month closure due to floods that washed out the rail link to the mountaintop ruins.

Actress Susan Sarandon was on hand for an ancient ceremony asking for the blessing of mother Earth and other rituals, including the sounding of an Incan welcoming trumpet.

Sarandon posed for photos with young girls wearing traditional Andean dress, and sipped coca tea that many locals use to ward off the effects of altitude at nearly 8,000 feet (2,440 meters) above sea level.

Tourism Vice Minister Mara Seminario said hundreds of foreign visitors entered the ruins following the morning reopening, as an early downpour gave way to a brilliant sun.

Peru's No. 1 tourist site had been shut down since late January, when heavy rains disrupted the rail link from the city of Cuzco and trapped some 4,000 tourists, many of whom had to be rescued with helicopters.

Workers have now finished rehabilitating the last 17 miles (28 kilometers) of the tracks, though service has not been restored all the way to Cuzco.

Officials have said the entire route is not expected to reopen until June. Until then, tourists can travel by bus from Cuzco to Piscachuco and from there by train to Machu Picchu Pueblo at the base of the ruins.

The train is the only form of transportation to the fortress, though hardier tourists can also hike there along the steep Inca Trail.

Machu Picchu, nestled atop a verdant mountain in the Andes, averages 1,500 to 2,000 visitors a day.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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