At least 99 killed in raging forest fires in Chile

At least 99 killed in raging forest fires in Chile
Photo credit: Pixabay

At least 99 people have been killed and 1,600 have been left homeless by forest fires in central Chile’s Valparaiso region, authorities said Sunday, Anadolu reported.

Thirty-two people have been identified so far, said Chile’s Legal Medical Service, the state coroner.

“The forensic institution delivers its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” it said in a statement.

There are 161 active fires across the country, according to Alvaro Hormazabal, director of the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service. A botanical garden founded in 1931 in the city of Vina del Mar has been almost completely destroyed by the flames.

Authorities have urged thousands of people to evacuate their homes and have imposed curfews in the cities most heavily impacted by the fires to free up routes and allow emergency vehicles to reach affected areas. Shocking images of hundreds of cars burned by the fires, which have devastated entire neighborhoods, are circulating on social media.

More than 200 people have been reported missing in Vina del Mar and the surrounding area, a popular coastal region for tourists during the summer holidays.

President Gabriel Boric warned that the death toll could worsen as large fires are still active in Valparaiso, where firefighters are struggling to reach densely populated areas that have been engulfed by massive flames.

After visiting the affected areas, Boric declared two days of national mourning for fire victims. The president said high winds were making it difficult for firefighters to control the wildfires, which have already burned through 8,000 hectares (19,768 acres) of forest and urban areas.

The fires came as record-high temperatures hit the South American country due to an El Niño weather pattern that has caused high temperatures and triggered forest fires in several Latin American countries including Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina.

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