Runaway Truck Mows Down Easter Island Monolith

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After Truck Topples Easter Island Statue, Mayor Calls for Traffic Restrictions

by Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com

Easter Island’s iconic collection of moai—massive stone monoliths built by the outcrop’s first inhabitants many centuries ago—now stands one fewer.

On Sunday, a runaway truck careened down a hillside before crashing into and toppling the statue, causing “incalculable” damage, reports Juanita García for El Mercurio de ValparaísoIn the days since officials have arrested an island resident and charged him with damaging a national monument.

The investigation into the incident remains ongoing. It appears to have involved a case of failed brakes, according to El Mercurio. In response to the crash, Easter Island Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa has called for motor restrictions to be put in place across the area.

Built to honor the ancestors of the indigenous Rapa Nui population, the moai, which first appeared around the 14th or 15th century, endured a period of decline in the late 1700s when European explorers arrived at Easter Island to find several of the monoliths in ruins. Today, about 1,000 moai remain; the Rapa Nui cherish the figures, viewing them as living incarnations of people past and present.

 

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