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After a volcano eruption, Sacred Easter Island statues sustain irreparable damage

According to Chilean and Indigenous authorities, the fire has charred Easter Island’s stone heads and other archaeological items.

Officials from the native tribe reported that the fire, which was caused by Rano Raraku’s volcano, started Monday. It razed more than 100 hectares of the island’s famous stone-carved statues, known as Moai, and damaged their famed stone-carved statues.

Ariki Tepano is the director of Ma’u Henua, an indigenous community that manages Rapa Nui Natural Park. He described the damage as irreparable and warned that the “consequences are beyond what the eyes could see” in a Thursday statement.

Rapa Nui National Park, whose name derives from the Indigenous moniker of the island, is a protected area that preserves the Rapa Nui heritage.

This UNESCO World Heritage-listed isle lies approximately 3,500km (2,174 miles), off

the coast of Chile. It is also the most remote inhabited place on the planet. This remote island is a popular destination for tourists from all over the globe, due to its giant Moai monuments.

Chile’s Undersecretary for Cultural Heritage Carolina Perez Dattari stated that officials from the National Monuments Council (CNM), the country, “are on the ground assessing damages” caused by the fire on sacred stone figures on the island.

According to the CNM, “exposure to high temperature… could cause big fractures that affect Moai’s integrity.”

The island’s National Park, which contains 386 Moai carved out of solid basalt, is currently closed to tourists. Conservationists are investigating the extent of losses.

Just a few years before the coronavirus epidemic put an end to travel, Easter Island was dealing with bad behavior from tourists. They would often take photos with Maoi at angles that made it look like they were “picking their noses” at the gigantic statues.

Chilean Island resident, Carlos Aguilar, was arrested two years ago after his truck collided with one of the stone figures. He also smashed the ahu (or platform) that was on top.

Around 900 years ago, Polynesian seafarers arrived on Rapa Nui. Since then, researchers have been curious about why these huge statues are located where they are.

Recent studies have shown that the statues may be linked to the freshwater springs where island settlers discovered them.

According to UNESCO the Polynesian community settled on the island and created a “powerful and imaginative tradition of monumental sculpture, architecture, and free from any external influences,” such as the “erected immense stone figures known as Moai which created an unrivaled environment that continues to amaze people around the world.”

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