- History & Culture
Easter Island’s iconic statues remain at risk after devastating fire
Recent blazes chewed through the heritage site, causing “irreparable” damage to hundreds of Rapa Nui’s sacred moai. Here's what you need to know.
One of the most remote inhabited locations on Earth, Easter Island is famous for the thousand or so enigmatic, towering statues that dot its landscape, called moai.
Earlier this month, a fire caused “irreparable damage” to hundreds of moai, according to the local government of the island, known as Rapa Nui to locals.
Although the true toll is still being assessed, the disaster is just one of the many threats to these sacred statues—along with climate change and human activities. To the Rapa Nui people, the risks are profound, says archeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg, director of the Easter Island Statue Project.
“They cherish the memory of the people that have gone before,” she says. “They’re angry that so much was