Fire Scorches Easter Island's Iconic Statues

Authorities say the damage is 'irreparable'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2022 10:45 AM CDT
Fire Scorches Easter Island's Iconic Statues
Statues known as "moai" stand at Rano Raraku, the quarry on Easter Island.   (AP Photo/Karen Schwartz, File)

A forest fire that swept through a national park has done irreversible damage to some of Easter Island's most famous landmarks, authorities say. The fire scorched around 250 acres of an area that's home to numerous moai statues, the Telegraph reports. The huge stone figures are sometimes called the Easter Island heads because they have oversize heads, and many are buried up to their shoulders. Several hundred of them are in the area around the Rano Raraku volcano, which was most affected by the blaze. In a Facebook post, Ariki Tepano, director of the community that manages the national park, said the damage is "irreparable and with consequences beyond what your eyes see, the moai are totally charred and you can see the effect of the fire upon them."

"The damage caused by the fire can't be undone," Pedro Edmunds Paoa, the island's mayor, said, per AFP. "The cracking of an original and emblematic stone cannot be recovered, no matter how many millions of euros or dollars are put into it." The figures were carved by the Rapa Nui people around 500 years ago. The Polynesian tribe still makes up most of the population of the Pacific island, which was annexed by Chile in 1888. Authorities believe the fire was deliberately set, the BBC reports. The figures, most of which are around 13 feet high, have long been a major draw for tourists. The island closed its borders for more than two years during the pandemic and reopened in early August. (One of the figures was destroyed by a runaway truck in early 2020.)

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