A wildfire that tore up part of Easter Island has charred some of the legendary monumental stone figures known as moai, authorities said Thursday.
“Nearly 60 hectares (148 acres) were affected, including some moai,” Carolina Perez, undersecretary of cultural heritage, said in a Twitter post.
On Easter Island, which lies some 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) off Chile’s west coast, 100 acres have been devastated by flames since Monday, Perez said. The area around Rano Raraku volcano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the most affected.
There are estimated to be several hundred moai in that area, as well as in the quarry where the stone used to make the sculptures is extracted.
“The damage caused by the fire cannot be undone,” Easter Island mayor Pedro Edmunds told local media.
The total damage is not yet known.
But the fire comes just three months after the island reopened to tourism on August 5, after two years of closure due to Covid-19.
Before the pandemic, Easter Island — whose main livelihood is tourism — received some 160,000 visitors a year, on two daily flights.
But with the arrival of Covid-19 in Chile, tourism activity was completely suspended.
The island was long inhabited by Polynesians, before Chile annexed it in 1888.
Chili museum returns ‘head’ of Easter Island
© 2022 AFP
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