Local authorities have reported that forest fires in Chile’s Valparaiso region have claimed the lives of at least 112 people.
Gabriel Boric has declared a state of emergency and pledged to provide all necessary resources to combat the situation. This is believed to be the deadliest forest fire in Chile’s history, with many people affected being tourists visiting the coastal region during the summer holidays.
The health ministry has implemented a health alert in Valparaiso and has called for elective surgeries to be temporarily suspended while authorizing the establishment of temporary field hospitals.
The health ministry has announced that final-year medicine students will be employed to help alleviate the burden on the healthcare system.
The rescue services have encountered difficulty in reaching the worst-affected regions, with Interior Minister Carolina Toha predicting that the death toll will rise significantly in the coming hours.
A 61-year-old resident of El Olivar described the experience as “hell” and Rodrigo Pulgar, speaking, recounted how he attempted to assist his neighbor before realizing that his own home was beginning to burn. Mr. Pulgar added that ash was falling heavily during the incident.
An elderly neighbor died because they were unable to evacuate from El Olivar due to the fires, as explained by a resident.
According to the housing ministry, the fires have affected anywhere between 3,000 and 6,000 homes.
A curfew has been imposed in Viña del Mar, Limache, Quilpué, and Villa Alemana since Saturday to facilitate emergency responders’ access to affected areas, according to Mr. Boric.
The interior minister stated that 1,400 firefighters will be deployed on Sunday to combat the fires.
The military has joined emergency services in providing aid, while the cause of the fires is under investigation.