At least 112 people have died in a violent fire that has ravaged the tourist beach resort of Valparaiso in central Chile, and the toll could rise as firefighters continue to battle around forty active blazes on Monday.
Whole residential areas have been destroyed, burnt cars, almost 26,000 hectares have been reduced to ashes… About 1,400 firefighters and 1,300 soldiers and volunteers are preparing to fight dozens of fires in the center and south of the country for the fourth day in a row. National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (Senapred).
According to the information received from the forensic service, we have to say that 112 people were killed and 32 bodies were identified., Interior Ministry spokesman Manuel Monsalve announced Sunday evening, during a press conference, noting that firefighters are still fighting forty active explosions. The previous toll given by the Forensic Medical Service (SML) was 99.
“This number will increase, and we know it will increase significantly.”President Gabriel Boric warned earlier on Sunday during a visit to Quilpo, located in the suburb of Viña del Mar in the Valparaiso region, where all the deaths were recorded.
Macarena Ribamonti, the mayor of the resort town of Viña del Mar, and Rodrigo Mundaga, the governor of the Valparaiso region, said several hundred people were missing.
In Quilpué, a team from Agence France-Presse saw entire neighborhoods and cars burning. There, thousands of residents were stranded for hours Friday as they tried to flee by car.
This is the worst tragedy we have seen since the 2010 earthquake.Mr. Boric announced.
Lilian Rojas, a 67-year-old retiree, lived near one of the worst-hit areas, the Viña del Mar Botanical Gardens. “There's not a house left here”, she said, amid the rubble and ashes. He says the fire caught them by surprise within minutes. “I went out to check and people were already running. I left my house, closed the door and left.Describing the retiree, showing off his pink dress: “This is all I have left. »
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The driver, Rodrigo Bulgar, lost his home in El Oliver, in the mountains of Valparaiso. “It was hell, the explosions. I was trying to help my neighbor put out his car and my house started burning from behind. It was raining ash.”He says.
Traffic should be restricted in the affected areas “Facilitation of operations for rescue of victims and rescue of dead”A new curfew was introduced on Sunday in four municipalities of Valparai from 6 am to 10 am on Monday.
More favorable weather conditions
Interior Minister Carolina Doha said the weather conditions in the past few hours seem to be very favorable, describing a phenomenon typical of the Pacific coast, which produces lots of clouds, high humidity and low temperatures.
“Present conditions are very favorable for casualty care and fire control.”She added.
The Los Tablas fire, the largest in the Valparaiso region, is still active “Covering a radius of 80 km”Mrs. Doha pointed out.
Across the region, famous for its beaches and its wine production, seventeen fire brigades, 1,300 soldiers and civilian volunteers were deployed to fight the blaze and help destitute residents.
Supported by the Pope, the European Union and France
From Rome, Pope Francis called for Sunday prayers after the Angelus “For the Dead and Injured in the Catastrophic Fire in Chile”.
The head of European diplomacy, Joseph Borrell, announced that the European Union at X “Ready to help in this difficult time”Believing that these “Destructive fires (…) remind us of the ravages of drought and climate”.
“In the face of the fires that are ravaging the country, France expresses its full solidarity with the government and people of Chile” And “Ready to help”And the French Foreign Ministry responded in X.
Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil threatened
President Boric declared a state of emergency on Friday “By all means necessary” faced the progress of the fire. Fourteen ships and five helicopters were mobilized to fight the fire.
Since Wednesday, temperatures in central Chile and the capital Santiago have been close to 40°C. “These episodes are repeating themselves more and more, which is why we see historical temperature records every year.”In charge of fire safety at the National Forestry Company, Pablo Lobos explained to Stefani, the Chilean branch of the CNN channel.
This heat wave, a result of the El Niño climate event, is currently affecting the southern cone of Latin America in mid-summer, making wildfires worse due to global warming. A heat wave threatens Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil in the coming days after Chile and Colombia.
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