Some 80 Moai statues, emblematic of Easter Island, were damaged, sometimes in a “irremediable”by a fire that broke out earlier this week on the island located 3,500 kilometers from the Chilean coast. « The fire in the quarry of the Rano Raraku volcano has been extinguished (…)however causing irreparable damage to the Cultural Heritage of Humanity”Chilean President Gabriel Boric said on Friday, October 7.
One hundred hectares of the Rapa Nui National Park have been devastated. The fire reached the area of the Rano Raraku volcano, and the quarry where the ancient Rapa Nui indigenous civilization made its Moai statues. There are 416 of these sculptures in various stages of manufacture.
Firefighters were unable to access the site.
Due to the flames, smoke and water, around 20% of the statues in the place were damaged, according to the mayor of the island, Pedro Edmunds, who assures that one of them suffered “irreparable harm.”
“It will remain there, as it is, until we assess the damage, and then we will call on humanity to see what solution we can come up with. »
The elected official explained that the flames spread rapidly due to the lack of guards in the park, and denounced “the abandonment of the island” by the Government. Due to the geography, fire engines were unable to access the actual site of the fire, which was likely criminal in origin. “This fire was started by grazing cattle herders. Everything suggests “said Chilean Agriculture Minister Esteban Valenzuela.
Three months after reopening to tourists
Isolated in the middle of the Pacific, 3,500 km from the Chilean coast, Easter Island, of Polynesian culture, is known worldwide for its impressive megaliths of mysterious origin, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Some can reach 20 meters in height and weigh up to 80 tons.
The fire occurred three months after the island reopened to world tourism in early August after two years of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, the island, whose main livelihood is tourism, received 160,000 visitors a year, with two daily flights.