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SANTIAGO: Many of Easter Island’s iconic ‘moai’ stone statues were irreparably damaged in the wildfires that ravaged the island earlier this week, the island’s mayor told Reuters on Friday.

“The damage is immeasurable, immeasurable and irreversible,” said Pedro Edmonds, mayor of the Chilean territory of Easter Island. “For the fire heats the rock, and it cracks.”

He said scientists will visit the island with park managers to assess the extent of the damage and determine what can be done.

“I don’t know if there is a solution for this,” Edmunds said.

According to a preliminary report released by Chile’s Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, the wildfires that started on Tuesday engulfed more than 60 hectares (148.26 acres) and the number of sacred moai statues is unknown.

The report did not specify the cause of the wildfires and said further investigations into the fires and the damage they caused would be conducted.

The Rano Raraku volcano crater, located in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rapa Nui National Park and home to several statues, was severely damaged by fire.

“It’s very painful to see how the moai burned,” said Francisco Haoa, a representative of the Rapa Nui people, who said the statue was already facing slow damage from rain, sun and wind. He added that there were

“And the fire accelerates the damage to the moai.”

Easter Island, 3,219 kilometers off the Chilean coast, recently reopened to tourists on August 1 after closing its borders for more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chile’s undersecretary of culture, arts and heritage, Carolina Perez, said on Twitter that the government was providing support to the mayor, but Edmonds blamed the government for its lack of support.

“Solutions are in the hands of absentee countries who have been and are absent,” Edmonds said. “And we don’t want to listen to islands that are planned to prevent these problems.” ‘Moai’ statues on Chile’s Easter Island face irreparable damage in bushfires

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