PanamaTimes

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024

At least 112 dead as authorities struggle to contain forest fires in Chile

At least 112 people have died as massive forest fires ravage central Chile, prompting officials to enforce curfews in the hardest-hit cities and call for evacuations.
Firefighters face intense blazes since Friday, particularly around Viña del Mar, where a historic botanical garden has been destroyed and over 1,600 residents displaced.

With some individuals trapped by the fire on the city’s outskirts, 200 people are reported missing. The coastal city of Viña del Mar, home to 300,000 and known for its beaches, witnesses extensive damage, with drone footage capturing the devastation of neighborhoods.

Chile's forensic service confirmed the death toll on Sunday. The region's governor suggested the fires might be arson, citing simultaneous ignition at multiple locations. The government continues to investigate the cause.

High temperatures, dry conditions, and strong winds complicate firefighting efforts, with 8,000 hectares already scorched. Residents are urged to evacuate promptly to clear paths for emergency vehicles.

Curfews are instituted in Viña del Mar and nearby cities to prevent looting amidst the crisis, which is exacerbated by a heatwave and the El Niño weather pattern leading to droughts and heightened fire risks.
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