“At least 112 dead in Chilean wildfires: The worst tragedy since 2010”

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Nearly 26,000 hectares have been reduced to ashes. Entire residential neighborhoods devastated, charred cars, and about 26,000 hectares reduced to ashes.

“We have to say, with the information received from the forensic service, that there are 112 people killed, 32 bodies identified,” said Manuel Monsalve, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior, during a press conference, specifying that firefighters were still battling about forty active fire spots. The previous toll given by the Forensic Service (SML) was 99 dead.

The mayor of the seaside resort of Viña del Mar, Macarena Ripamonti, and the governor of the Valparaíso region, Rodrigo Mundaca, stated that several hundred people were reported missing. In Quilpué, an AFP team could see entire neighborhoods and burned cars.

There, thousands of residents were blocked on Friday for several hours as they tried to flee by car. “There is not a single house left here,” she said amid the debris and ashes.

She recounts that the fire took them by surprise in a matter of minutes. “I went out to see and people were already running.

I left my house, closed the door, and left,” described the retiree, showing her pink dress: “It’s the only thing I have left.” Rodrigo Pulgar, a driver, lost his house in El Olivar on the hills of Valparaiso.

“It was hell, explosions. I tried to help my neighbor put out his car, my house was starting to burn from behind.

It was a rain of ashes,” he said. To limit traffic in the affected areas “and facilitate rescue operations for victims and recovery of the deceased,” a new curfew has been imposed in four communes of Valparaiso, from 6:00 PM local time (9:00 PM GMT) to 10:00 AM local time on Monday (1:00 PM GMT).

“Current conditions are more conducive to taking care of the victims and controlling the fires,” she added. The Las Tablas fire, the largest in the Valparaiso region, is still active and “covers an area of 80 km,” she said.

Throughout the region, known for its beaches and wine production, 17 fire brigades, 1300 soldiers, and civilian volunteers were deployed to fight the flames and assist the vulnerable residents. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, announced on X that the EU was “ready to provide assistance in these difficult times,” noting that these “devastating fires (…) remind us of the ravages of drought and climate.”

Since Wednesday, the temperature has been hovering around 40 degrees in central Chile and the capital Santiago.

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