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
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
far longer for the ecosystem to recover completely.
The ruins, a destination for thousands of tourists each year, are believed
have been a center of religious ceremonies in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.