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, Mestas said.
His body was removed from the mountainside and taken by train to a morgue in Cusco on Thursday night, according to Canal N.
The German’s death was the latest in a long string of accidents suffered by tourists as they posed for photographs in scenic locations.
A day earlier, a South Korean tourist fell to his death while taking a selfie in the north of Peru. The tourist plunged more than 1,600 feet off the Gocta waterfall in the Amazonas region, according to Canal N.
Selfie-distracted tourists have become a safety hazard around the globe in recent years as smartphones and selfie sticks spread. People snapping selfies have been gored by bison in Yellowstone and hit by oncoming trains.
Last year, a Japanese tourist died after falling down stairs while taking a photo of himself at the Taj Mahal. In December, a family of four drowned in southern India after a woman’s selfie went awry, according to the Times of India. And this June, seven men drowned in the Ganges in another river-side selfie gone wrong, the Telegraph reported.
Machu Picchu is a particularly dangerous location for attempting a selfie. The stone temple was built by the Incas around 1450 and abandoned roughly a century later after the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. The site, which is considered sacred by many Peruvians, is located 8,000 feet above sea level. Perched atop a crest in the Andes mountains, the temple offers stunning views of surrounding peaks as well as a river valley more than 1,000 feet below.
The UNESCO World Heritage site is Peru’s top tourist attraction. It is so popular that the Peruvian government decided in 2014 to limit the number of tourists per day to 2,500 for safety reasons and to preserve the ruins.
Machu Picchu’s beauty has long proved beguiling, however.
In 1997, an American tourist plunged to her death after slipping on a mountain path overlooking Machu Picchu. Ingrid Mason, 70, and two friends were walking down Huayna Picchu, a mountain that overlooks the stone citadel, when she fell 400 feet, according to the Miami Herald.
In 2004, a Russian tourist died after being struck by lightning while climbing the same peak.
And in 2011, an Australian man died inside a tower at Machu Picchu after suffering a suspected heart attack.
The mountain and the surrounding area saw a spate of deadly accidents in 2013.
In January, an American tourist named Rachel Cecilia Ianni died after falling down a ravine while hiking a lower section of the Inca Trail.
A month later, a German couple were visiting Machu Picchu when a rock fell on top of them. Heize Beat, 49, fell down a slope to his death. His girlfriend, 46-year-old Hein Achira, was injured but survived, according to UPI.
That August, an Argentine tourist died after falling into an abyss near Machu Picchu. And that fall, two tourists — another Argentine and a Dane — died after suffering heart attacks while visiting the temple.
In May 2014, a Belgian man died while ascending Huayna Picchu.
Wednesday’s death appears to be the first linked to photography at Machu Picchu.
According to Guillermo Mestas, the Peruvian witness, a park ranger was roughly 20 feet from the German tourist when he fell.
The incident occurred on a sunny day around noon on a flat area atop the Machu Picchu mountain overlooking the citadel, Mestas told Canal N.
“He was at the edge with his back to the abyss, taking a photo of himself,” Mestas said of the German. The man then asked a stranger to snap a photo of him mid-air, but he never got the chance to jump.
Mestas said the German fell about 10 feet, hit a narrow ledge and kept falling.
“What happens is that many tourists from all over, especially foreigners, always get very close to the edge of the abysses even though the park rangers are always asking them to back up,” the Peruvian told Canal N.
“It seems like his desire to get the best photo led to this accident.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported Rachel Cecilia Ianni’s name. It has been corrected.
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