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World heritage site damaged by fire — RT World News

Stone statues on Chile’s Easter Island have been ‘irretrievably’ charred, officials say

Wildfires have damaged the iconic moai stone statues of Chile’s Easter Island, known to locals as Rapa Nui. The statues built by the first inhabitants of the Pacific island 3,500 km (2,175 miles) off the west coast of Chile have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Ariki Tepano, a local official in charge of Rapa Nui National Park, described the damage on Thursday as “irreparable.”

“The moai are completely burnt, you can see the effect of the fire on them”, he said, according to a statement on Facebook.

Authorities said more than 100 hectares have been burned in the Rano Raraku volcano area, including “the area of ​​wetlands and moai.” They said efforts to control the fire had been affected by the lack of available responders.

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“The damage caused by the fire cannot be repaired”, Rapa Nui Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa told reporters. “The cracking of an original and iconic stone cannot be recovered, no matter how many millions of euros or dollars are invested in it.” He suggested that the fires were “not an accident.”

The Council of National Monuments of Chile (CMN) said officials were working to establish the number of moais affected. There are 386 statues at Ranu Raraku and over 1,000 on the island in total.

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