Santiago, Oct 26 (SocialNews.XYZ) A forest fire on Chile's Easter Island in early October damaged at least 177 Moai, or sacred monolithic statues, the Unesco said.
The report followed an exploratory mission to the island on October 17-21 led by the director of Unesco's regional office in Chile, Claudia Uribe, reports Xinhua news agency.
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.
"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.
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.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island encompasses 163.6 square kilometres and is home to some 7,750 inhabitants, concentrated mainly in Hanga Roa, the capital and only town on the island.
Easter Island has nearly 1,000 of the Moai which have oversized heads and generally stand about 13 ft-high. The largest statue weighs 74 tonnes and stand at a height of 32 ft.
The figures were carved by the indigenous Rapa Nui people sometime between the years of 1400 and 1650, and positioned to form a ring around the island, facing inland.
The statues symbolised spiritual devotion for the Rapa Nui, embodying the spirit of a prominent ancestor.
Each one was considered to be the person's living incarnation.