‘Damage from wildfire to Easter Island’s sacred statues irreparable’

The damage caused by wildfires this week to the Moai, sacred monolithic statues on Chile’s Easter Island, is irreparable, said the island’s mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa.

“The damage is incalculable because there is no recovery for the cracking of an original and emblematic stone, no matter how many millions of euros or dollars they put into it,” Xinhua news agency quoted Paoa as saying to the local media on Thursday.

The official explained that a group of archaeologists from Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is leading the research.

On Monday, local authorities declared a red alert on the island due to a forest fire close to inhabited areas.

Carolina Perez, undersecretary of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage of Chile, posted on Twitter that the serious fire on the Rano Raraku volcanic crater affected the world heritage site.

“Just two days ago, the fire devastated more than 100 hectares on the island,” she added.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island encompasses 163.6 square kilometres and is home to some 7,750 inhabitants, concentrated mainly in Hanga Roa, the capital and only town on the island.

Easter Island has nearly 1,000 of the Moai which have oversized heads and generally stand about 13 ft-high. The largest statue weighs 74 tonnes and stand at a height of 32 ft.

The figures were carved by the indigenous Rapa Nui people sometime between the years of 1400 and 1650, and positioned to form a ring around the island, facing inland.

The statues symbolised spiritual devotion for the Rapa Nui, embodying the spirit of a prominent ancestor.

Each one was considered to be the person’s living incarnation.

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