This handout picture released by the Rapanui Municipality shows Moais – stone statues of the Rapa Nui culture – affected by a fire at the Rapa Nui National Park in Easter Island, Chile, on Oct 6, 2022. (RAPANUI MUNICIPALITY / AFP)
SANTIAGO – A forest fire on Chile's Easter Island in early October damaged at least 177 moai statues – ancient monoliths that have made the Polynesian island world renowned, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said Tuesday.
The report followed an exploratory mission to the island on Oct 17-21 led by the director of UNESCO's regional office in Chile, Claudia Uribe, the office said in a statement.
Fire spread over approximately 240 hectares, damaging vegetation and archaeological structures, including 177 moai, according to an initial report from Chile's National Forestry Corporation
The mission evaluated the need for emergency UNESCO funds to help assess the scale of the damage to the World Heritage Site, and strengthen its comprehensive management and protection plan.
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"The idea is to focus this aid on diagnostic tasks to evaluate the extent of the damage caused by the fire and determine the necessary actions to recover the park and its future protection," said Uribe.
Fire spread over approximately 240 hectares, damaging vegetation and archaeological structures, including 177 moai, according to an initial report from Chile's National Forestry Corporation.
This AFP graphic dated Aug 10, 2022 shows the map and facts on Easter Island, off the west coast of Chile and is world renown for its monumental statues of human figures with giant heads, called moai.
Moai are "stone witnesses of a society of Polynesian origin that from the 10th to the 16th century built sanctuaries and statues that make up an incomparable cultural legacy that fascinates the entire world," said UNESCO.
Easter Island covers 163.6 square km and is home to some 7,750 inhabitants concentrated mainly in Hanga Roa, the capital and only town.
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The Pacific island is situated more than 3,700 km off the coast of Chile.