Philippine Daily Inquirer

Easter Island braces for total eclipse, tourist influx

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HANGA ROA, Chile—Remote and mysterious Easter Island is bracing for an influx of tourists and problems with Sunday’s solar eclipse (early Monday inManila) that is being seen as amixed blessing for the tiny Pacific territory.

The Chilean island of only 160 square kilometers is expecting an estimated 4,000 visitors, doubling the population of the barren isle which already suffers from water pollution and deforestat­ion.

Four flights were to land on Sunday at Mataveri airport with 1,032 people, and more visitors were expected on a dozen boats arriving during the week.

Normally, there is just a single flight arriving each day.

But conditions are anything but normal this week on Easter Island, deemed by astronomer­s as the best place to witness Sunday’s alignment of the Sun, Earth and Moon, which will occur for a fleeting four minutes and 41 seconds.

The total solar eclipse will begin in French Polynesia, before the Moon’s umbra, or shadow, cloaks Easter Island and its mysterious giant statues.

Parts of the globe will be plunged into daytime darkness along a narrow corridor some 11,000 km long across the South Pacific.

Easter Island is a Unesco World Heritage Site inhabited by mostly ethnic Polynesian­s.

But authoritie­s have increased security, especially around key heritage sites including the large stone statues, or moai, some 3,000 years old, for which Easter Island is famous.

 ?? AFP
AFP ?? PHOTO taken on Feb. 12, 2005, of twoMoais—stone statues of the Rapa Nui culture—on Easter Island, 3,700 km off the Chilean coast in the PacificOce­an.
AFP AFP PHOTO taken on Feb. 12, 2005, of twoMoais—stone statues of the Rapa Nui culture—on Easter Island, 3,700 km off the Chilean coast in the PacificOce­an.

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