Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Forest fires in Chile: provisional toll of around ten dead

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Vehicles and houses burned in Viña del Mar, Chile.

Agence France-Presse

Relief is activated on Saturday in Chile where a state of exception was declared the day before in order to fight against violent forest fires which are spreading in tourist regions of the Latin American country, raising fears of a provisional toll of around ten deaths.

The fires have plunged the popular resort of Vina del Mar, along the Pacific coast in the Valparaiso region, into a cloud of smoke and are threatening hundreds of homes, prompting forced evacuations.

Firefighters have been fighting tirelessly since Friday against around ten fires in the regions of Valparaíso and O'Higgins in the center, but also Maule, Biobío, La Araucanía and Los Lagos, in the south. /p>

We have preliminary information indicating several people have died, around ten, announced Sofía Gonzáles Cortés, the state representative in the Valparaiso area.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric has declared a state of emergency in order to have all the necessary means to deal with the progression of the fires. All forces are deployed in the fight against the forest fires, assured the Head of State in a message posted on the social network the situation.

In the Valparaiso region alone, the fire devoured more than 7,000 hectares, according to CONAF, the Chilean national forestry office, pointing out the extreme evolution of the fire.

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Images that have gone viral on social networks, shot by trapped motorists, show the mountains engulfed in flames at the end of the famous Route 68, a road used by thousands of tourists to go to the Pacific beaches.

I had never seen such a thing, it's very distressing, because we evacuated the house, but we can't can't move forward, all these people trying to get out and who can't move, confides Yvonne Guzmán, reached by telephone by AFP.

This 63-year-old administrator, who abandoned her home in Quilpué, a town 90 kilometers northeast of Santiago, has been patient for two hours, stuck in her car with her nonagenarian mother-in-law.

We received an alert on the cell phone and a rain of burning ashes began to fall, she said, while messages from her neighbors warned her that the flames were burning. #x27;are approaching his house.

In the towns of Estrella and Navidad, 200 kilometers southwest of the capital, uncontrolled fires burned nearly thirty housing, forcing residents to flee to this area near the seaside resort of Pichilemu, famous for surfing.

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

Authorities stopped traffic on Friday due to reduced visibility due to smoke on Route 68 which connects Santiago to Valparaiso and leads to the wine region of Casablanca and at the seaside resort of Vina del Mar.

These episodes are more and more recurring, which is why we see records every year historical temperature records, Pablo Lobos Stephani, responsible for fire protection at CONAF, explained to the Chilean branch of the CNN channel.

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

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