Chile is at war and has declared a state of emergency A raging forest fire It has killed at least 51 people across the country – and officials say the death toll could rise.
“Given the conditions of the tragedy, the number of victims will certainly increase in the coming hours,” Chilean President Gabriel Boric said in a televised statement on Saturday.
He said the Ministry of Defense would send more army units to the affected areas and all necessary resources would be made available.
The declaration was made for the provinces of Marca Marca and Valparaiso, said Sofia Gonzalez Cortes, presidential representative of Valparaiso. A curfew was imposed in several communes from 8 a.m. to noon local time to facilitate the deployment of emergency and logistical support, he added.
About 92 active fires are burning in various parts of the country and have so far affected about 43,000 hectares, Interior Minister Carolina Doha said. Firefighters have brought 40 fires under control and are still battling 29, he added.
In Valparaiso, a port city on the coast of Chile, emergency crews are making the fires a priority because of its proximity to urban areas and its mayor who says some 372 residents are missing.
One of those fires has burned about 6,800 hectares, Doha said.
Officials say 1,100 homes have been damaged by wildfires in Valparaiso.
“The biggest concern is that some fires are in zones very close to urban areas, at the interface of urban areas, and therefore have a very high potential to affect people, homes and installations,” he added.
Firefighters spray water on houses as a precaution as wildfires burn nearby.
Javier Torres/AFP/Getty Images
Aerial view of burned vehicles in El Olivar commune.
Doha told reporters that the death toll could rise in the coming hours, as officials tried to confirm information from still inaccessible areas.
At least six of the dead did so while being treated at hospitals for burns, officials said.