Home » Chile hit by fire inferno – several hundred may have died – Dagsavisen

Chile hit by fire inferno – several hundred may have died – Dagsavisen

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Chile hit by fire inferno – several hundred may have died – Dagsavisen

So far, 112 people have been found dead, but several hundred are also missing. A total of 188 fires have been registered in various places in the country, especially in southern and central areas.

It is now summer in the Latin American country, and temperatures have at times approached 40 degrees.

Worst affected is the area west of the capital Santiago, where around 1.8 million people live. At the coastal towns of Valaparaíso and Viña del Mar, an area of ​​around 110 square kilometers is affected.

Thousands of houses are either completely burned down or destroyed, over 3,000 of them in the Valparaíso area alone.

Worst fire in Chile’s history

The death toll is likely to rise, according to Interior Minister Carolina Tohá, who states that the fires are without a doubt the deadliest in Chile’s history.

– We have a lot of preliminary and unconfirmed information which indicates that the numbers will be much higher, she says and points out that over 300 people are missing.

The Ministry of the Interior also refers to credible information that the fire at Valparaíso was started. Further south, one person has been arrested for causing a fire while working with welding equipment.

State of exception

President Gabriel Boric declared a state of emergency on Friday. Curfews have been introduced in some places, and many have been asked to evacuate. Soldiers have also been sent to the area to help with the extinguishing work.

– The most important thing now is to save lives and put out the fires, says Boric, who on Sunday visited the injured in a hospital in Viña del Mar, a city with around 300,000 inhabitants.

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According to mayor Macarena Ripamonti, 190 people are still missing in the city.

The town’s botanical garden has burned down, as have the surrounding houses.

– Not a single house is left here, says one of the residents, 67-year-old Lilian Rojas.

Corpses in the streets

On the hillsides around the city, where many houses have been destroyed by the flames, some of the victims have been left in the streets. After the fire in the area in question was extinguished, several of them were taken out by relatives.

Abraham Mardones, who barely managed to escape from his house, says that the fire spread very quickly, and that the flames had already taken hold of the house when he realized they had to get away.

When he returned on Sunday, he found several of his neighbors dead.

– The fire took everything, memories and house. I’m only left with my overalls and a pair of shoes that I got as a gift. The only thing I could save was my dog, he says.

Norwegians evacuated

It is not unusual for forest fires to occur in Chile during the summer months. Last year, 26 people lost their lives, and 4,250 square kilometers were scorched.

But this year’s fires represent the worst disaster to hit Chile since a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2010 killed more than 500 people.

Over 30 helicopters and planes, 1,400 firefighters, 1,300 soldiers and many volunteers are fighting the flames.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) states that a few Norwegian citizens have been evacuated.

– The embassy in Santiago is working to get an overview of how many Norwegians are in areas affected by forest fires, says communication adviser Ane Lunde in the Foreign Ministry to NTB.

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In addition to the heat wave, Chile has been hit by an unusually severe drought. The researchers say that a combination of climate change and the weather phenomenon El Niño is behind it. Colombia has also experienced large forest fires this year. There, 170,000 acres went up in flames in January.

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