November 7, 1998
Jungle returns to Peru's top tourist site after fire

                  LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Lush jungle vegetation surrounding the Incan ruins of
                  Machu Picchu, Peru's top tourist attraction, has returned more than a year
                  after being destroyed by fire, the government said.

                  An effort to plant thousands of trees and flowers in the area damaged by a
                  five-day fire in September 1997 has succeeded, according to a report issued
                  Thursday by the government's National Culture Institute.

                  The blaze burned 1,300 acres of tropical mountain forests containing rare
                  species of birds, butterflies and orchids and approached the outer stone
                  walls of Machu Picchu, South America's leading archaeological treasure.

                  The fire charred surrounding mountain slopes, destroying the stunning view
                  from the stone ruins, which are perched high atop a craggy, jungle-covered

                  Biologists say that although much of the vegetation has returned it will take
                  far longer for the ecosystem to recover completely.

                  The ruins, a destination for thousands of tourists each year, are believed to
                  have been a center of religious ceremonies in the 15th and 16th centuries.

                  Copyright 1998   The Associated Press.