18 Aug 2009

Easter Island airport blockade ends

12:23 pm on 18 August 2009

Flights to Easter Island will resume today after Chile agreed to hold talks with residents who had stormed the airport to protest an influx of tourists and immigrants to the island.

Chile's LAN airline said protesters occupied the tarmac of Easter Island's airport, forcing it to suspend flights at the weekend and leaving about 600 passengers stranded in Santiago.

Some islanders claim growing tourism and migration from Chile could pose a risk to the island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The island's population surged 31 percent to nearly 3,800 people in 2002 from 2,900 people in 1992, and is forecast to grow to almost 5,000 people by next year.