Easter Island's ancient statues suffer 'irreparable damage' in fire

A number of Easter Island’s famous towering stone statues have become ‘irreparably’ damaged after a huge fire.

Flames had spread over 148 acres of land on Monday.

‘The damage caused by the fire can’t be undone’ the island’s Mayor Pedro Edmunds solemnly told reporters today.

Easter Island is home to nearly 1,000 of the huge statues, known as moai. It has not yet been confirmed how many have been damaged in the fire.

Each oversized head – carved by tribespeople 500 years ago – can reach to around four metres high.

The national park which contains the statues is looked after by the Ma’u Henya community.

They have described the damage as ‘irreparable and with consequences beyond what your eyes can see’.

The community’s director, Ariki Tepano, wrote on social media: ‘The moai are totally charred.’

A nearby volcano, Rano Raraku, is thought to have caused the sudden fire.

Authorities have closed the area surrounding the towering stone heads while staff assess fire damage.

The history, and mystery, which surround Easter Island’s moai draw a huge number of tourists to Chile.

People are thought to have first arrived on Easter Island about 900 years ago.

Over the years, the population rose to the thousands, forming the complex society that carved the statues Easter Island is known for today.

These statues, or moai – often referred to as ‘Easter Island heads’ – are actually full-body figures that became partially buried over time.

Easter Island reopened just three months ago following on from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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