An avalanche in the Andes on a peak overlooking Machu Picchu in Peru triggered mudslides and flooding earlier this week, killing at least three people in the community of Santa Teresa below.
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The mountain, Salkantay (20,574-feet), is covered by a giant ice cap that has been melting at an accelerated rate in the last few decades. Ice and rock caused by this destabilization fell into glacial lakes at the foot of the glaciers and sent waves of meltwater downstream and into communities below, reports Cnet.
Peruvian government authorities said a “mixed avalanche” made up of 400,000 cubic meters of mostly rock and some ice tumbled off of Salkantay and into Salkantaycocha Lake. The slide on Sunday displaced enough water in the lake to create waves that over-topped the natural moraine dam holding the lake back. The torrent then rushed down the valley, churning up mud, rocks, and debris on its way toward Santa Teresa.
COEN reports that the waters caused the collapse of 300 houses and that around 20 people are missing in addition to the three confirmed deaths.