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Chile president laments ‘tragedy’ as wildfires kill 64; toll seen rising

2024.02.04 15:01

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© Reuters. Smoke fills the air following the unfold of wildfires affecting many components of the Valparaiso area, in Vina del Mar, Chile February 3, 2024. REUTERS/Sofia Yanjari

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(Reuters) -Fires devastating components of central Chile have killed a minimum of 64 individuals and the nation faces a “tragedy of very great magnitude,” President Gabriel Boric stated on Sunday, as he warned that the dying toll seemingly will surge in coming days.

Wildfires that started a number of days in the past are menacing the outer edges of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, two coastal cities widespread with vacationers. The city sprawl of these cities accounts for greater than one million residents west of the capital Santiago.

Chilean authorities have launched a 9 p.m. curfew within the hardest-hit areas and despatched within the army to assist firefighters stem the unfold of fires, whereas helicopters dumped water to attempt to douse the flames from the air.

Boric, saying two days of nationwide mourning beginning on Monday, stated Chile ought to put together itself for extra dangerous information. The dying toll rose from 51 on Saturday.

“We know that figure is going to grow, it’s going to grow significantly,” Boric stated in a televised speech to the nation, including, “We are facing a tragedy of very great magnitude.”

“It is Chile as a whole that suffers and mourns our dead,” Boric stated.

Hundreds of individuals even have been reported lacking, authorities stated. More than 1,000 properties have been broken. Officials on Saturday stated greater than 90 fires had been raging throughout Chile.

Although wildfires usually are not unusual in the course of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer time, the lethality of those blazes stands out, making them the nation’s worst nationwide catastrophe because the 2010 earthquake through which about 500 individuals died.

Last 12 months, on the again of a document warmth wave, some 27 individuals died and greater than 400,000 hectares (990,000 acres) of land had been affected.

Boric has sought to channel funds to the hardest-hit areas, lots of that are widespread with vacationers.

“We are together, all of us, fighting the emergency. The priority is to save lives,” Boric stated.

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