Fire destroys dozens of historic statues on Easter Island

Oct. 7 () –

A fire allegedly started by the intentional burning of a pasture has destroyed dozens of the historic statues of Easter Island, known as moais, before the inability of the fire departments to contain the flames in time due to lack of troops, Chilean authorities have lamented in a statement.

The flames, which began on Tuesday, have destroyed about a hundred hectares and charred the statues that were around the Rano Raraku volcano, one of the most important of the island, and the quarry where the historic pieces were manufactured.

The fire progressed for hours without control due to the “inability to control it because of the lack of brigade personnel”, according to the second commander of the Easter Island Fire Brigade, Marcos Añigual, in declarations reported by the Chilean newspaper ‘La Tercera’. The firemen took all Tuesday morning to contain the flames.

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The damage to the statues was confirmed over the following days by the Undersecretary of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage of Chile, Carolina Perez Dattari.

“The exterior firebreaks, carried out by organizations and the community prevented the exterior side of the quarry from burning completely,” Dattari explained on her Twitter account.

Initial assessments have bemoaned the very serious damage to many of the affected statues. “It is irrecoverable,” the mayor of Easter Island, Pedro Edmunds, told a local media, an opinion that coincided with that of the island’s provincial presidential delegate, Juliette Hotus.

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“What we are living in Rano Raraku is an unprecedented tragedy for our material and natural heritage,” he lamented, in statements collected by ‘El Mercurio’.

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