Death toll in Chile fires reaches 112 as country experiences its worst disaster

Monday, February 5, 2024
 – The death toll in Chile fires has now reached 112 as the country experienced its worst disaster since the 2010 quake that killed 500.

President Gabriel Boric has warned that they face a ‘tragedy of very great magnitude ’as the country continues to battle forest fires for three days.

Hundreds of people are still missing, authorities say, stoking fears the death toll will keep climbing as more bodies are found on hillsides and houses devastated by the wildfires.

The fires gathered momentum on Friday, reaching the outer edges of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, two coastal cities popular with tourists.

'The wind was terrible, the heat scorching. There was no respite. People dispersed everywhere,' said Pedro Quezada, a local builder in the Valparaiso region, standing amid charred debris of his destroyed home.

Chilean authorities have introduced a 9 p.m. curfew in the hardest-hit areas and sent in the military to help firefighters stem the spread of fires, while helicopters dumped water to try to douse the flames from the air.

Chile's Legal Medical Service, the state coroner, said 112 people have died in the fires. The death toll stood at 51 on Saturday.

Deputy Interior Minister Manuel Monsalve on Sunday said 165 fires raged across Chile and estimated about 14,000 homes have been damaged in the Vina del Mar and Quilpué areas alone.

Those who returned to their ravaged homes found them almost unrecognizable, with many losing all their life's possession.

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