Hundreds still missing following wildfires in Chile

7 February 2024, 09:54

Navy personnel walk past overturned and charred cars in Chile
APTOPIX Chile Forest Fires. Picture: PA

President Gabriel Boric said at least 3,000 homes burned as the fires spread quickly in dry weather and strong winds.

More than 300 people are still missing as wildfires that ravaged central Chile for several days and killed 131 people appear to be burning themselves out.

Authorities were assessing the damage after the fires in Valparaiso, said to be Chile’s deadliest disaster since an earthquake in 2010.

Officials have suggested that some could have been intentionally set.

President Gabriel Boric, who visited the region on Tuesday, has said at least 3,000 homes burned as the fires spread quickly in dry weather and strong winds.

Forest fire debris
Areas of Chile have been affected by forest fires (Esteban Felix/AP)

The fires began on Friday on the mountainous eastern edge of Vina del Mar, a beach resort known for a festival that attracts the best in Latin music. Two other towns, Quilpe and Villa Alemana, also were hit hard.

The Vina del Mar Festival cancelled its opening gala as a sign of mourning. Many of the participating singers sent messages of solidarity and announced donations.

Chile’s Forensic Medical Service has said many bodies recovered from the fires were difficult to identify, but forensic workers would take samples of genetic material from people reporting missing relatives.

“My parents’ and my sisters’ house burned, and my neighbours — the people who knew me when I was little — died,” said Gabriel Leiva, 46, going through debris in Vina del Mar.

By Press Association

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