Heavy rains damage Peru's Nazca lines

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Heavy rains have damaged part of Peru's famed Nazca lines, depositing desert clay and sand on top of three fingers of a geoglyph shaped like a pair of hands, an archaeologist said Monday.

Mario Olaechea of Peru's National Culture Institute told The Associated Press that water from the unusually heavy rains washed off the nearby Pan-American highway and pushed sand and clay onto part of the site Sunday.

The damage is minor, and the institute plans to clear the material and restore the glyph, Olaechea said.

Nazca's dry and windless climate has preserved the mysterious lines for more than 1,000 years since they were etched into the desert sand by indigenous groups who cleared away rocks and small pebbles to form the shape of animals and other figures.

Fully visible only from the sky, they are one of Peru's top tourist destinations. The lines were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1994.

Archeologists have warned the lines are vulnerable to flooding. But Olaechea said it was the first known instance of rain damage.