UN fears spread of Machu Picchu town

The UN's cultural arm UNESCO is calling for emergency measures to prevent the town that feeds tourists to Peru's archaeological marvel Machu Picchu from becoming overrun.

The 15th century Incan city is perched on a mountain high above the town of Aguas Caliente, which has seen a boom in hotels and restaurants to accommodate an ever-growing number of visitors.

"The authorities charged with protecting the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, located in the Cusco region, must take rigorous emergency measures to counter the growing disorganization of Aguas Calientes," Nuria Sanz, the head of UNESCO for Latin America and the Caribbean, said during a mission to Peru this week.

The incredible stone ruins at Machu Picchu, which means "old peak" in the pan-Andean native language Quechua, are located 2,400 meters (7,900 feet) above sea level in a remote part of the southeastern region of Cusco.

Authorities are being urged to manage Aquas Calientes' growth effectively and set up an effective buffer around the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which could soon see more visitors with the construction of a second access road.

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