A devastating forest fire broke out in Chile on Saturday. Almost 1,000 people were injured and 23 died. 83 fires remain out of control.
The death toll in devastating forest fires in southern Chile has risen to at least 23. According to preliminary information, at least ten more people were missing in the municipality of Santa Juana in the Bío Bío region, as announced by Chilean Interior Minister Carolina Tohá on Saturday (local time). According to this, almost 1,000 people were injured, 16 of them suffered serious injuries. Many houses were damaged or destroyed. According to the information, 1,429 people were housed in emergency shelters.
“In the past week of this crisis, the same area has been burned as in an entire normal year,” Tohá said of the extent of the fires, which engulfed thousands of hectares in the area some 500 kilometers south of the capital Santiago, amid a heatwave with record temperatures. According to the interior minister, the number of fires rose from around 200 on Friday to more than 250. Firefighters and residents battled the blaze.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric interrupted his vacation in Patagonia in the far south of the country to visit the affected areas. The government has now also declared a state of emergency for the Araucaria region. This allows regions to restrict certain rights and take extraordinary measures. For example, the military can be used. In Ñuble and Bío Bío there was already a state of disaster. The causes of the fires were initially unclear. Boric had pointed out that residents would still have burned garbage even at 42 degrees.