Five tourists have been deported from Peru and a sixth arrested after being accused of damaging Machu Picchu.

High-angle view of the Lost Incan City of Machu Picchu
Tourists have been accused of vandalising Machu Picchu © saiko3p / Shutterstock

A statement from the Peru Ministry of Culture claims that six tourists illegally entered the site of Machu Picchu at night on Sunday, 11 January. Authorities allege the group damaged a stone wall of the Temple of the Sun, causing it to fall from a height of approximately six metres (20 feet) and crack the floor. Faecal matter was also found at the site.

The group was caught at 5.30am by staff and identified as four men and two women, among them Argentinian, Chilean, Brazilian and French tourists. Five of the tourists were deported to Bolivia, reports the New York Times, while a sixth will stay behind to face charges of "destroying Peru’s cultural heritage." According to local media, all of the tourists were aged between 20 and 32.

High angle view of the ruins of the Temple of The Sun, Machu Picchu
High angle view of the ruins of the Temple of The Sun, Machu Picchu ©Glowimages/Getty Images

Machu Picchu is one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world with more than one million tourists a year. It's also one of the most fragile and, at times, ill-equipped to deal with so many visitors. As it struggles with the issue of overtourism, a cap on daily visitor numbers was implemented in 2017. However, conservationists are concerned that a new airport in Cuzco, proposed as a gateway to the Inca Trail, will threaten the preservation of the Unesco World Heritage site.

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