At least 64 people have died due to raging forest fires in Chile, Chilean President Gabriel Poric said on Sunday afternoon, adding that the death toll is likely to rise.
In a press conference on Saturday, Interior Minister Carolina Toha said there were 92 fires burning affecting more than 43,000 hectares. More than 1,350 homes have already been affected, Tuha added on Sunday.
Buric ordered a two-day national mourning for the victims of the bushfires, both those who lost loved ones and those who lost their property.
In a virtual speech, Buric acknowledged the loss of lives and homes, and promised Chileans that the government was actively working to provide resources.
“I know it is a very difficult time to lose a home that was built with so many years of sacrifice,” the president said. “Losing a family member, or a loved one, is a heartbreak impossible to measure, but rest assured that our government is stretched with all the human, technical and budget resources.”
The fires led to evacuations in several areas of central Chile.
In February 2023, fires in the country swept through more than 400,000 hectares and claimed the lives of more than 22 people.
Although this year's fires have not spread widely, Toha said they are “reproducing rapidly” and spreading close to urban areas, so the potential to affect more people and buildings is “very high.”
The fires break out as Chile faces a Heat wave This also affected other Latin American countries.
Burek too Fly high area to assess the affected areas. He said: “We have worked to provide the largest resources in our history to confront the wildfire season and deploy them from day one to prevent (wildfires) and help people.”
19 helicopters and more than 450 firefighters were brought to the area to fight the fires. In addition, all mass business events in Valparaiso She was suspended – including sporting, entertainment and cultural events – in order to focus efforts on fires.
“Every time there is a huge event, it means the need for security teams and authorities who are distracted from what is central today,” Toha said. “That's why we need to have no distractions.”
Chile-based water utility company Esval said its teams were working to stabilize service in order to “provide and enhance water in fire areas.” In a press release, Isvale Regional Director Alejandro Salas also encouraged customers to postpone non-urgent tasks such as washing clothes and watering gardens.
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