Wildfire damages iconic landmarks on Easter Island
The fire occurred just months after the tourist area was reopened following a years-long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The damage "can’t be undone,” the local mayor said.
A wildfire swept through part of Easter Island in early October, damaging some of the island’s iconic carved heads known as moai.
On Monday, Easter Island’s Rano Raraku volcano erupted, causing a wildfire that swept through the Rano Raraku area and damaged the island's iconic stone heads.
Rano Raraku is also known as the moai statue quarry, where about 400 stone heads are scattered. About half of the iconic statues -- a popular draw for tourists -- were finished, while the rest never reached a completed state, according to an Easter Island travel website.
Some of the stone heads, which have stood for at least 500 years if not much longer, may now be permanently damaged as the fire burned around 250 acres of the quarry.
Easter Island's iconic stone heads suffered permanent damage after a wildfire swept through the national park. (Rapa Nui Municipality / AFP)
The remote, volcanic island in Polynesia is a Chilean territory, despite being located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean and 2,200 miles away from mainland Chile.
This national park was designated as a statue-making factory in 1935 because of the tuff rock that was found on it, according to Chile’s National Forest Corporation website.
The fire came just three months after the island opened back up to tourism following two years of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. The fire has once again delayed the island’s ability to bring in tourism revenue.
“The damage caused by the fire can't be undone,” said Pedro Edmunds, the mayor of Easter Island.
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