Deadly wildfires in Chile have claimed at least 99 lives till now, reported the Government’s Legal Medical Service (SML). A State of emergency has been proclaimed as smoke engulfed the coastal cities of Chile, forcing residents in core regions to flee their homes.
🤔Photos and video of the consequences of fires in Chile, which are increasingly burning out populated areas, have emerged pic.twitter.com/JZBrZTSqsM
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President Gabriel Boric announced on February 4, following his visit to the affected districts, that February 5 and February 6 would be designated as national mourning days in honour of the fire victims.
He also stated that the death toll “will increase significantly,” in a press conference on February 4. The Governor of the Valparaiso region, Rodrigo Mundaca, announced on February 4 that a curfew was being enforced in the towns of Vina del Mar, Quilpue, Villa Alemana, and Limache so that officials could concentrate on putting out the fires.
Valeria Melipillan, the mayor of Quilpue, Chile that the fire was “probably the largest ever” in the area and that around 1,400 homes had been damaged. Although the evacuation attempts had been effective, Melipillan noted that several residents of the impacted areas had expressed a reluctance to leave their houses.
“Pray for the deceased and injured victims of the devastating fires that have affected central Chile,” Pope Francis urged people to pray for those who lost their lives in wildfires, in a post on X.
Meanwhile, Chile’s President Boric said in a televised statement on February 3, that the Defence Ministry would send additional military personnel to the impacted areas and would provide all required supplies.
The fires triggered evacuations in several regions of central Chile. In February 2023, fires in the country swept through more than 400,000 hectares and killed more than 22 people. Though this year’s fires have not spread as widely, Toha said they are “multiplying rapidly” and are spreading closer to urban areas, so the potential to affect more people and structures is “very high”.
The fires broke out as Chile faces a heat wave that has affected other Latin American countries as well. Boric declared a State of emergency, and red alerts were issued for at-risk areas.
(with inputs from ANI)