Chile Wildfire: Over 120 Lives Claimed, Death Toll Likely To Rise, Rescue Operation Underway

Chile Wildfire: Over 120 Lives Claimed, Death Toll Likely To Rise, Rescue Operation Underway

In central Chile's Valparaiso region, dense black smoke engulfed the sky, affecting nearly one million residents. Despite efforts from firefighters employing helicopters and trucks, the flames persisted.

Aleesha SamUpdated: Tuesday, February 06, 2024, 08:27 AM IST
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More than 120 people have died as a result of the devastating wildfires that are ravaging large areas of Chile, according to authorities, who have issued a warning that the death toll is likely to rise, reported CNN.

According to the city of Valparaiso's Legal Medical Services, at least 122 persons have passed away as far as of Monday.

On the other hand, the Chilean National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (SENAPRED) has noted that 161 active fires are raging nationwide right now.

President Declares National Mourning Days as Chile Struggles with Wildfire Devastation
A state of emergency was declared by President Gabriel Boric when smoke smothered coastal communities including Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, claiming lives.

President Gabriel Boric announced on Sunday, following his visit to the affected districts, that Monday and Tuesday would be designated as national mourning days in honour of the fire victims, CNN reported.

He also stated that the death toll "will increase significantly," in a press conference on Sunday.

In central Chile's Valparaiso region, dense black smoke engulfed the sky, affecting nearly one million residents. Despite efforts from firefighters employing helicopters and trucks, the flames persisted.

Chilean authorities reported that areas near the coastal tourist hub of Vina del Mar have been severely affected by the fires, making it challenging for rescue teams to access all impacted areas. President Boric, providing a national update, stated that out of the total fatalities, 40 individuals lost their lives in the fires, while an additional six succumbed to their injuries in hospitals.

There are video footages of the forest fire that surfaced online media too.

Watch visuals here:

Dramatic Rescue Amid Chilean Wildfires: Firefighters Discover Trapped Individuals in Burning Vehicles on Valparaiso Highway



"Given the conditions of the tragedy, the number of victims is sure to increase over the next few hours," President Boric said. "The situation is really very difficult," he added.

The death toll means this is the deadliest outbreak of forest fires in Chile in the past decade, Chilean disaster agency Senapred said.

State Emergency Declared With Rising Death Toll

Chilean President Gabriel Boric decreed "a state of emergency due to catastrophe, in order to have all the necessary resources" to fight the fires. The Death toll now which has now at 99 is also expected keep increasing significantly.

Meanwhile, Chile's President Boric said in a televised statement on Saturday that the defence ministry would send additional military personnel to the impacted areas and would provide all required supplies.

Interior Minister Carolina Toha provided an update earlier in the day, stating that throughout the country, there were 92 active fires, impacting over 43,000 hectares. She initially reported 19 fatalities. Chile commonly experiences wildfires during the summer months, with last year's record heat wave resulting in 27 deaths and over 400,000 hectares affected.

"The area with fires today is much smaller than last year (but) at this time the number of hectares affected is multiplying very rapidly," Interior Minister Carolina Toha said.

The wildfire-affected hectares surged from 30,000 to 43,000 between Friday and Saturday. Toha emphasized that the authorities' primary concern was the proximity of some active fires to urban areas, posing a significant risk to people, residences, and infrastructure.

The fires triggered evacuations in several regions of central Chile. In February 2023, fires in the country swept through more than 400,000 hectares and killed more than 22 people.

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