Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Fires in Chile: death toll rises to 122

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Around forty fires are still active in the country.

Agence France-Presse

'The whole Chile mourns Valparaiso': Chile observes two days of national mourning starting Monday in memory of the 122 victims of devastating fires in the country's central and southern tourist regions, which also left thousands without shelter.

The country, in the middle of the austral summer, has been facing the deadliest forest fires in its recent history since Friday.

According to the latest report from authorities on Monday, at least 122 people have died, all in the tourist region of Valparaiso.

President Gabriel Boric described the fires as the country's biggest tragedy since the 2010 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed more than 500 people. He assured that all of Chile mourns Valparaiso by declaring two days of national mourning.

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Chilean President Gabriel Boric ( Archive photo)

And the toll from the fires could rise further. On Sunday, when the authorities reported 112 deaths, President Boric assured during a trip to Quilpué, on the outskirts of the seaside resort of Viña del Mar: This figure will increase, we know that it will increase significantly.

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In this city located 120 km north of the capital Santiago , entire hills, some densely populated by middle-class families, others by less well-off families, were ravaged.

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Houses and vehicles burned in Viña del Mar, Chile.

The mayor of the seaside resort, Macarena Ripamonti, announced on Sunday that some 190 people were missing there.

Without electricity and little water, residents of the affected areas now suffer from a lack of basic services amid streets covered in debris, charred cars and cold embers.

The most important parts of my house were saved, but now we no longer have electricity, we can no longer do anything or charge our cell phones, Patricia Guzman tells AFP, 63 years old, a resident of an area of ​​Quilpué where the houses were not completely destroyed.

Traffic is complicated with burned cars. Everything is devastated.

A quote from Patricia Guzman, a resident of Quilpué

Traffic on the roads in the disaster areas of this region popular for its beaches and its wine production is made difficult by the arrival of volunteers, while firefighters and rescue teams are looking for victims.

In Quilpué, an AFP team was able to see entire charred neighborhoods and charred cars. Thousands of residents were stranded for several hours on Friday as they tried to flee by car.

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Cars were burned in the city of Viña del Mar.

Teams are still working to put out around 40 fires in the country, some of which led to preventive evacuations on Sunday in Til Til, 60 km north of Santiago, and in Galvarino, 400 km south of the capital, near a large region that also saw large fires in February last year.

Supported by around thirty firefighting helicopters and planes, some 1,400 firefighters as well as 1,300 soldiers and volunteers are fighting the flames.

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Emergency teams are hard at work trying to find victims, after the devastating forest fires ravaged central and southern Chile.

Pope Francis on Sunday called for prayer for the victims of the fires in Chile, among the deadliest of the 21st century in the world, while x27;European Union and France have expressed their solidarity and their willingness to provide aid in the face of the devastation caused by the fires.

Since Wednesday, the temperature close to 40 degrees in central Chile and the capital Santiago.

This heatwave resulting from the El Niño phenomenon is currently affecting the southern cone of the ;Latin America, in the middle of summer, causing forest fires worsened by global warming. After Chile and Colombia, the heat wave will threaten Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil in the coming days.

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