Peru deportes 5 tourists accused of damaging the Machu Picchu temple

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

Tourists were caught just before 6 a.m. on Sunday by staff members working in the archeological park, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement 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 illegally infiltrated the site 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 on the site.

On Wednesday, five of the tourists were deported to Bolivia, the National Police of Peru said. An Argentine tourist, Nahuel Gómez, 28, was accused 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 on Wednesday that Mr. Gomez admitted to causing damage to the temple wall and illegally entering the park before dawn.

José Bastante, head of archaeological work in Machu Picchu, asked the authorities to quickly determine responsibility and punish the crime.

The Ministry of Culture, condemning the behavior of tourists, said national and foreign visitors must respect and protect the archaeological heritage of Peru.

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

The Temple of the Sun is a semicircular structure built around a large rock at the bottom of a hill and aligned so that when the summer solstice occurs, light shines through a window and aligns with the rock and the top from 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 arrested for taking nude photos on the site in 2014, and authorities have warned tourists not to take debris as souvenirs.

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