A real tragedy this week. A fire has damaged some of the iconic moais, those giant stone carvings, on Easter Island (Rapa Nui). While some articles have characterized it as a forest fire, there really aren’t proper forests on the island, so it would probably have been more of a grass fire. Whatever it was, it hit in the worst possible place for the moais (see map).

Reports are that the fire has raged around Rano Rarako volcano, site of the main quarry where the statues were crafted. It’s the place you see in photos of half-buried statues, like below, and it’s adjacent to the very famous and photogenic Ahu Tongariki.

The Guardian quotes Easter Island mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa as saying he believed the fire was “not an accident,” telling local broadcaster Radio Pauta that “all the fires on Rapa Nui are caused by human beings.” He also said “The damage caused by the fire can’t be undone. The cracking of an original and emblematic stone cannot be recovered, no matter how many millions of euros or dollars are put into it.”

The Quarry


Ahu Tongariki


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