Chile Wildfires: At Least 112 People Dead, Emergency Declared

The Chile Wildfires death toll has surged to at least 112 people, with President Gabriel Boric declaring a state of emergency and warning that the number is expected to rise.

Chile Wildfires: At Least 112 People Dead, Emergency Declared

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The wildfires, is by an intense summer heatwave and drought, have scorched nearly 26,000 hectares (64,000 acres) across central and southern Chile.

The coastal tourist region of Valparaiso has been hard-hit, with temperatures soaring to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) over the weekend.

Responders, including 1,400 firefighters, 1,300 military personnel, and volunteers, are with 34 active blazes as of Sunday morning.

Residents like Rosana Avendano and Lilian Rojas recount the moments when the fires engulfed their homes, leaving nothing behind.

Avendano’s husband escaped the flames, while Rojas describes her neighborhood near the Vina del Mar botanical garden as completely obliterated.

President Gabriel Boric has declared a state of emergency, acknowledging that the country is facing its deadliest disaster since the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that claimed 500 lives.

He expressed concern over the rising death toll and assured government support to help affected communities recover.

Boric, who flew over the affected area in a helicopter, has pledged to deploy all necessary resources to combat the wildfires.

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The devastation is evident in the images and videos capturing entire neighborhoods reduced to ashes. Aerial shots from El Olivar commune show burned-out houses and vehicles, showing the scale of destruction.

The famous Route 68, linking Valparaiso to the capital Santiago, was closed due to poor visibility caused by a massive mushroom cloud of smoke.

Authorities have imposed a curfew in the affected areas and ordered evacuations, affecting thousands of residents.

The challenges faced by emergency crews include navigating through blocked roads and reaching the most impacted neighborhoods.

The situation is compounded by the El Nino weather phenomenon, contributing to the intensity of the fires.

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Chile’s neighboring countries, including Argentina, have offered support in combating the wildfires. Pope Francis, an Argentine native, called for prayers for the victims during a Sunday address.

The region is experiencing a summer heatwave and drought, by the El Nino weather pattern. As the planet warms, the risk of natural disasters such as wildfires, heatwaves, and droughts increases.

Thousands left homeless and uncertain about their future. Preliminary estimates suggest damages reaching hundreds of millions of dollars in the Valparaiso region alone, according to Chile’s Finance Minister Mario Marcel.

There are indications that some of the fires may have been intentionally set. Rodrigo Mundaca, the governor of Valparaiso, mentioned the possibility of deliberate ignition, a concern said by President Boric.

Investigations will be to determine the causes and hold responsible parties accountable. The government has banned the handling of fire and heat-producing machines in the affected regions.

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