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Tourists return to Machu Picchu

CUZCO, Peru, April 2 (UPI) -- One of the world's most spectacular monuments, the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu in the Andes in Peru, is once again open to visitors.

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and hundreds of other tourists took the two-hour train ride Thursday from Cuzco, the BBC reported. Landslides at the end of January cut the rail line, the main route to the site.

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About 4,000 people, both visitors and local residents, had to be evacuated from Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu was built around 1450 and abandoned just more than a century later after the Spanish conquest. The city was in a saddle between two mountains, a site chosen to be invulnerable but smallpox, carried by Spaniards, wiped out most of the population.

The region around Cuzco generates about 90 percent of Peru's tourist income, most of it from the 2,000 tourists who make the trip to Machu Picchu every day. The tourism minister told the BBC the closing cost the country $200 million.

"This incident with the train to Machu Picchu has definitely had an impact on us…. I would say our sales have been reduced by 50 percent," Bernard Schleien, head of a budget travel agency, Latin America For Less, told the BBC.

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