Mayor calls for vehicle restrictions after truck crashes into sacred stone statue on Easter Island

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A Chilean man who lives on the Polynesian island was arrested on Sunday and has been charged with damaging a national monument

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 5:06 pm Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 5:06 pm The truck after crashing into the statue (Photo: Ma’u Henua community/Facebook)

A truck has crashed into one of Easter Island’s famous sacred stone statues, leading the mayor to call for vehicle restrictions. A Chilean man who lives on the Polynesian island was arrested on Sunday and has been charged with damaging a national monument, according to Chilean newspaper El Mercurio de Valparaiso. The man reportedly caused “incalculable” damage to the statue, and also damaged the platform it stood on.

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There are roughly 1,000 of these statues – known as moai – located all over Easter Island.

Indigenous islanders believe they hold the spirits of their ancestors.

‘Sacred structures’

Camilo Rapu, the president of the Ma’u Henua community, which looks after the moai, told The Guardian he believes the man may have deliberately crashed into the figure.

Other moai on Easter Island (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) “As people know, the moai are sacred structures that possess a religious value for the people of Rapa Nui [the indigenous name for Easter Island],” he said. “Something like this isn’t just dreadful, it’s an offence against a living culture that has spent the last few years fighting to regain its historic and archaeological heritage.”

Calls for vehicle restrictions

However, the island’s mayor, Pedro Edmunds Paoa, told El Mercurio de Valparaiso the crash was a result of brake failure. He told the paper eight years ago that stricter vehicle regulations were necessary to protect the sacred monuments.

“Everyone decided not to establish traffic rules when it came to vehicles on sacred sites,” he said at the time.

He wen on to add that the island’s growing population and increased tourism would put the statues under greater risk, but claimed that the city council “did not listen to us and this is what has happened”.

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