At least 46 people have died as a result of wildfires raging in Chile, President Gabriel Boric said on Saturday evening, with the death toll expected to rise.
At a press conference on Saturday, Interior Minister Karolina Toha said there were 92 active fires affecting more than 43,000 hectares. More than 1,100 houses have already been affected, Toha added.
In a virtual address, Boric acknowledged the loss of lives and homes and promised Chileans that the government is actively working to provide resources.
“I know it’s a very difficult time to lose a home built with so many years of dedication,” the president said. “Losing a family member, a loved one, is an immeasurable heartache, but rest assured that our government is working with all human, technical and budgetary resources.”
The fires have caused evacuations in several regions of central Chile.
In February 2023, fires in the country covered more than 400 thousand hectares. He killed more than 22 people.
Although this year’s fires were not as widespread, Toha said they were “growing rapidly” and spreading closer to urban areas, so the potential to affect more people and structures is “very high.”
Fires Chile a heat wave It also affected other Latin American countries.
Borik too flew over region to assess the affected areas. “We’ve worked to face the wildfire season and have the largest resources in our history to prevent (wildfires) and help people from day one,” he said.
19 helicopters and more than 450 firefighters were involved in extinguishing the fire. In addition, all the mass trade events in Valparaiso were stopped — including sports, recreation and cultural events — to focus efforts on fires.
“Every time there’s a big incident, it means a demand for security teams and authorities that are diverted from what’s important today,” Toha said. “So we must not be distracted.”
Esval, a Chile-based water utility, said its teams were working to stabilize service to “supply and increase water supply in fire zones.” In a press release, Esval regional manager Alejandro Salas encouraged customers to postpone non-urgent tasks such as washing clothes and watering gardens.