Easter Island's Moai Damaged by Fire

The famous ancient statues called Moai, found in Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park, have been damaged due to a recent fire. According to officials, more that 247 acres of the island burnt down and caused “irreparable” damages on these sacred statues. 

Easter Island, also known for its native name as Rapa Nui, is an island located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 2,200 miles away from the shores of Chile. Despite being known as the world’s most remote inhabited island, Easter Island draws tourists from all over the globe to witness approximately 900 massive carved human figures that range in size, with an average height of 13 ft.

According to Ariki Tepano, director of the Ma’u Henua community in charge of the park, he described the damages as “irreparable and with consequences beyond your eyes can see.” Photos posted on social media by the Municipality of Rapa Nui showed the catastrophic aftermath—charred statues and the smokey once greened landscape. Due to the lack of volunteer firefighters, it made it difficult to cease the fire as it spread throughout the island. The Provincial Presidential Delegation convened an emergency meeting in order to prevent such catastrophic events in the future. 

Even though the cause of the fire is yet to be determined, Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa claimed that the fire was “not an accident” and that “all the fires on Rapa Nui are caused by human beings”. Unfortunately, “the damage caused by the fire can’t be undone” Mayor Paoa said, “no matter how many millions of euros and dollars are put into it.” 

Easter Island suffers damage from fires
Easter Island suffers damage from fires

The officials from Chile’s National Monuments Council were “on the ground assessing damage,” according to Carolina Pérez Dattari, Chile’s Undersecretary of Cultural Heritage, in a tweet. She also added that the Chilean government offers its full support for the island. 

Due to the recent pandemic, Easter Island was closed for more than two years and was recently reopened for tourism in August of this year. And because of the fire, the Rapa Nui National Park was closed once again to the public on Wednesday, October 5th, for further investigation by the Conversation Department team.

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