Fire on Easter Island
Jet Balloon
Posted: January 01, 2023
  • 1 maoi
    A fire on Easter Island damaged some of the old statues. (Rapa Nui Municipality)
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    People carved these statues hundreds of years ago. (AP/Karen Schwartz)
  • 3 maoi
    Some statues have red stones on their heads. The statue on the right side has one. (123RF)
  • 4 maoi
    Some of the statues stand on stone platforms. (123RF)
  • 1 maoi
  • 2 maoi
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  • 4 maoi

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Fire raged on Easter Island, Chile, this October. The island’s famous statues got hot, hot, hot. Some cracked! Rain could make them fall apart even more.

Do you recognize the statues? People call them moais (MO-eyes). A people group called the Rapa Nui crafted the giant heads from volcanic rock. The oldest ones are more than 700 years old. These world-famous statues make people marvel.

People agree that the old statues should be protected as pieces of history. But fire wiped out nearly 250 acres on Easter Island in just a few days. Pedro Edmunds Paoa is the mayor of Easter Island. He says Chile’s government does not take good care of the statues. He claims officials could have done more to protect the treasures from fire.

Local people consider the moais sacred. Over 1,000 statues pop heads out of the ground on Easter Island.

But there’s more. Literally.

Did you know those famous heads have bodies too? They’re buried! Many people don’t realize this. Photographers mainly snap images of the heads. No one knows for sure how many statues lie completely beneath the Easter Island soil.

Most moais measure around 13 feet tall. Many weigh as much as five or six cars. Most of the statues face away from the sea. Some have red stones on their heads (like a hair bun). The biggest moai has a nickname: El Gigante. That means the Giant, and rightly so. This maoi is about 70 feet long. It might weigh as much as 100 cars. It is not finished. El Gigante was never raised to standing.

It can be hard to travel to Easter Island. It’s more than 1,000 miles from the nearest island. How much have fires damaged the statues? Many scholars can only guess from a distance.

Why? Local people valued the Easter Island statues because they may have believed the statues held the spirits of ancestors. We see them as artifacts of history and marvel at their size. But Christians know God’s people go to be with Him as soon as they leave their bodies.