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Volcano Could Spell Doom For Sacred Easter Island Statues

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(CNN) – Easter Island’s towering stone heads and other archaeological elements have been charred by a fire, according to local Indigenous and Chilean authorities.The fire – caused by the nearby Rano Raraku volcano – started Monday and razed nearly 250 acres of the island, damaging its famous stone-carved statues known as ‘Moai’ which were created by a Polynesian tribe over 500 years ago, native officials reported.Ariki Tepano, who serves as the director of the indigenous Ma’u Henua community which manages the Rapa Nui Natural Park, described the damage as “irreparable” and warned that the “consequences go beyond what the eyes can see,” in a statement Thursday.The Rapa Nui National Park – whose name comes from the Indigenous moniker for the island – is a protected area displaying the legacy of the Rapa Nui culture.The UNESCO World Heritage-listed island lies 2,174 miles (3,500 km) off the coast of Chile and is the most remote inhabited island on the planet.

The far-off island has long been a bucket list destination for travelers from around the world, primarily due to the giant Moai monuments.Chile’s Undersecretary of Cultural Heritage Carolina Pérez Dattari said that officials from the country’s National Monuments Council (CNM) “are on the ground assessing the damages” from the fire on the island’s sacred stone figures.The composition of the statues can be adversely impacted from “exposure to high temperatures ...

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