RIO DE JANEIRO – A Japanese tourist was arrested for allegedly damaging a moai statue on Chile’s Easter Island, in violation of the country’s national monument law, the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio reported Friday.
The man, who the newspaper said is 28, was reportedly caught by local residents as he was inscribing his name and that of a friend on the statue in the southwestern Vinapu district of the island.
He was released after being questioned by a magistrate. He then departed for Japan, the newspaper said.
The damaged area measures 40 cm × 15 cm. It cannot be repaired, experts were quoted as saying.
Easter Island lies some 3,600 km off the coast of Chile and is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites.
It is known for hundreds of mysterious statues, called moai, scattered around the island. They are carved out of volcanic rock and average about 3.5 meters in height.
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