Deadliest forest fires in Chile claim at least 51 lives


Chile’s Valparaíso region is grappling with a devastating forest fire that has claimed the lives of at least 51 people, marking it as the country’s deadliest forest fire on record.

President Gabriel Boric has declared a state of emergency, pledging to allocate all necessary resources to address the crisis. Many of the victims were visitors to the coastal region enjoying the summer holidays.

In response to the dire situation, a health alert has been issued in Valparaíso by the health ministry, prompting the suspension of elective surgeries and the authorization of temporary field hospitals.

The ministry also announced plans to hire medicine students near the end of their studies to assist in alleviating pressures on the healthcare system.

Rescue services have encountered challenges in reaching the most severely affected areas, and Interior Minister Carolina Tohá anticipates that the death toll will rise significantly in the coming hours. The government has issued an advisory urging people to refrain from traveling to the fire-impacted areas.

Reports indicate that between 3,000 and 6,000 houses have been impacted by the fires, with a curfew implemented in Viña del Mar, Limache, Quilpué, and Villa Alemana on Saturday. President Boric explained that the curfew aims to facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles to reach affected areas.

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Addressing the crisis, 1,400 firefighters are being deployed, supported by military personnel alongside emergency services. The cause of the fires is under investigation, and measures, including a ban on handling fire and heat-producing machines, have been implemented to prevent further escalation.

Valparaíso, situated 116 km from the capital Santiago, is a popular coastal town that attracts many tourists during the summer. The regional committee for disaster risk management reported that 45 of the victims were found dead at the scene, while six others succumbed to burn wounds in healthcare centers. The tragic incident follows deadly wildfires in the Biobío and Ñuble regions last year, indicating a concerning trend of increasing frequency and lethality.


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