Machu Picchu Accident, German Tourist Falls to Death Posing for Photo

machu_picchu_accidentLIMA, Peru — Authorities in Peru say a German tourist plunged to his death in a deep Andean ravine while posing for a photo in an area above the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu that is closed to visitors.

The tourist, identified by the BBC and Peruvian media as 51-year-old Oliver Park, died on Wednesday after slipping from a ledge and falling approximately 39 metres.

He was posing for a mid-leap photo when he fell off Machu Picchu mountain, which overlooks the ancient Incan citadel of the same name.

Peruvian officials said the tourist bypassed a security cordon and ventured into an off-limits area before tumbling to his death, El Comercio reported.

“He asked a man who was there to take a photo of him,” Guillermo Mestas, a Peruvian tourist, told television station Canal N. “The man came over to take the photo and in the moment he was handing him the camera, he lost his balance and fell.”

By the time rescuers reached the tourist about an hour and a half later, the man was dead, Mr Mestas said.

Machu Picchu is the main tourist destination in Peru.

Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas” (a title more accurately applied to Vilcabamba), it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911.

Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of how they originally appeared. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored and restoration continues.

Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.