Dead and injured: Forest fires in Chile continue to get out of control

Status: 05.02.2023 07:58

Temperatures of up to 40 degrees prevailed in Chile for days. Numerous forest fires are the result, more than 80 are still out of control. The number of dead has now risen to at least 23. The authorities registered almost 1,000 injuries.

In Chile, the forest fires continue to rage after an intense heat wave with temperatures of up to 40 degrees. At least 23 people died according to official information. In addition, 979 people were injured, said Deputy Interior Minister Manuel Monsalve.

Of the 232 fires still active on Saturday, 83 are still out of control, Monsalve said. Given the situation, President Gabriel Boric’s government declared a state of emergency in the regions of La Araucania, Ñuble and Bío-Bío in the center of the country. This move allows the government to use the military to fight the fires.

Help from surrounding countries

Boric interrupted his vacation on Friday to travel to the city of Concepción, 510 kilometers south of the capital Santiago. “We won’t leave you alone,” the President promised the people affected on Twitter. Argentina offered to send firefighters and equipment, Boric explained. Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and Spain also offered help, said Interior Minister Carolina Tohá.

The fires are also blazing in the Nubian capital of Chillan.

Image: AFP

Tens of thousands of acres of land destroyed

Among the fatalities are a pilot of Bolivian nationality and a Chilean mechanic who crashed on Friday while extinguishing a helicopter, according to the National Civil Protection Service. According to official information, more than 250 fires blazed in total. The flames have destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of land since Wednesday.

A heat wave in Chile has resulted in temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius in the past few days. This favored the outbreak of the fires. There had already been a similar heat wave with fires in 2017. At that time, more than 1,500 houses and 467,000 hectares of land were destroyed. A total of eleven people died and around 6,000 were injured.

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