Hundreds airlifted from Machu Picchu

? Skies cleared over the fabled Machu Picchu citadel Thursday, speeding the evacuation of stranded tourists, many of whom were left to eat from communal pots and sleep outdoors after weekend flooding and mudslides cut access to the area.

By nightfall, helicopters ferried 1,402 people out of the remote village, the closest to the ancient Inca ruins 8,000 feet up in the Andes mountains. Tourism Minister Martin Perez told Lima’s RPP radio that only 800 tourists remained in town.

Perez said helicopters had evacuated a total of 2,542 tourists since Monday. More than 3,000 travelers were trapped in the town for days, strapping resources and testing travelers’ patience.