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New Zealand diplomatic staff have made contact with 15 of the 22 Kiwis trapped in Peru's ancient Incan capital Machu Picchu after landslides and heavy floods.
Flash floods and mudslides have knocked out roads, railways and bridges, leaving seven people dead and trapping about 2500 tourists, including at least 22 New Zealanders and many more Australians.
Originally 16 New Zealanders were thought to be trapped in the area but Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade went through the list and removed three names of people who had left prior to the landslides. However that list has now had nine names added to it.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman Dave Courtney said the 15 people contacted this morning all have accommodation and are safe.
"We will continue to maintain contact with those people to check on their welfare and to give them any updates we receive on the evacuation effort," Mr Courtney said.
He said the Ministry is also in contact with Peruvian authorities and the British Embassy to locate the other seven New Zealanders.
Mr Courtney said Peruvian authorities have told diplomatic staff that evacuations by helicopter are weather dependent but trains could take about 1000 people out today.
He said authorities are distributing a light lunch and have set up computers at the train stations so tourists can make contact with their families.
Yesterday some of the New Zealanders trapped spoke to the media and appealed for help.
They said they felt helpless and didn't know when or how they would be rescued.
The Press reported Christchurch couple Mike and Sheryl Chisholm as saying they were being treated "very badly" and would appreciate help from the New Zealand government.
"Unless something dramatically changes, I can't see how, or when, we will get out," Mr Chisholm wrote in an email.
He said the evacuation efforts for tourists were "very poor".
"People with money are the first people getting out. We feel a little helpless."
Wellingtonian Edward Clark and his girlfriend Sarah Fitzgerald are also stranded and have managed to check into a hotel to wait for rescue, The Dominion Post reported.
Mr Clarks' mother, Jenny Clark, said she had briefly spoken to him and was comfortable the couple were well equipped for the situation, although the price of food was escalating. "I know they just have to wait it out and be patient." she said.
Mrs Clark, who was in the area herself a couple of weeks ago, said the military was blocking exits to their village because of the dangers and while the couple had put their names on an evacuation list, it was the sick and elderly who were getting looked after first.
Families concerned about relatives should phone (04) 439 8000. New Zealanders in Peru can also make contact through the Ministry's safe travel website .
Helicopters managed to fly 475 people to safety yesterday from the villages of Machu Picchu Pueblo and Aguas Calientes, AFP reported.
Seven people, mostly locals, had been killed in the floods and mudslides.
About 400 Americans were among those stranded near Machu Picchu, and the US embassy in Peru has sent four helicopters to help with evacuation efforts.
Machu Picchu is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Latin America, attracting more than 400,000 visitors a year.
The 15th-century Inca fortress is located on a high mountain ridge 70km Cusco. A railway that transports tourists to the site was covered by a mudslide.
The country's civil defence service estimated the homes of 1300 people in poor rural areas - many of them riverside dwellings made of clay and straw - were destroyed, while many others were damaged.
Food and other aid including 1000 tarpaulins was being transported in for those left homeless.
- NZPA and NZHERALD STAFF