Historic Easter Island statues damaged by fire that was “not an accident”

Posted on 10 October 2022 By Tsoku Maela

A fire broke out on Easter Island, doing irreparable damage to most of the historic Moai statues.

Picture: Flickr Commons / The TerraMar Project

Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa of Rapa Nui told Radio Pauta that he believed the fire was ‘not an accident’ and that ‘all the fires on Rapa Nui are caused by human beings.’

photo shared by the municipality of Rapa Nui on social media shows several charred statues in the aftermath of a blaze that swept through more than 100 hectares of an area called Rano Raraku, which includes the famous stone sculptures known as Moai.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed island lies some 3 500 km off the coast of Chile and is the most remote inhabited island on the planet. Created by a Polynesian tribe over some 500 years, the giant moai monuments found on the island have long been a tourist attraction. They were figures of spiritual devotion for the Rapa Nui, embodying the spirit of a prominent ancestor. Each one was considered to be the person’s living incarnation.

The park said in a statement that a shortage of volunteers hindered the ability of officials to get the fire under control. Ariki Tepano, who serves as the director of the indigenous Ma’u Henua community which manages the Rapa Nui Natural Park, described the damage as “irreparable”.

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