(RepublicanView.org) – More than 100 people have died in forest fires in Chile. The blazes broke out in the center of the country on February 2, with the city of Viña del Mar particularly severely affected. Drone footage shows whole areas of the city reduced to ash, and around 1,600 people have lost their homes. A 1931 botanical garden has also been obliterated. Firefighters say they are struggling to contain the blazes, which national authorities say may have been started deliberately.
According to The Guardian, Rodrigo Mundaca, the governor of the Valparaíso region, said, “These fires began in four points that lit up simultaneously. We will have to work rigorously to find who is responsible.”
President Gabriel Boric warned that many of the affected areas are hard to reach, and high winds are exacerbating the crisis. Those close to the fires were asked to leave their homes, while people living further away were urged to stay indoors and avoid travel to allow emergency services free access to roads.
As of Monday, February 5, 161 separate fires were raging across the country, authorities said, as they warned that the death toll was likely to rise. AP reported on Tuesday that the death toll had reached 131 with over 300 people still missing. However, according to the outlet, the fires seemed to be “burning themselves out.”
President Boric declared a state of emergency and said his government would deploy the military to the worst affected areas and make all national resources available to aid those who have lost homes and property. He also declared two days of mourning for those who died in the fires.
Reuters reported this week that the fires had become the worst disaster since an earthquake in 2010 that killed around 500 people. The outlet reported that fires in that part of the world are not unusual this time of year, but the number of deaths sticks out.
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