Chile wildfires death toll has tragically reached at least 112, following a devastating fire that swept across the region. President Gabriel Boric declared Monday and Tuesday as days of national mourning for the fire victims of the deadliest forest fire in South American history.
The fires, which started in early February, have resulted in extensive destruction, with vast areas of land destroyed and entire settlements razed to the ground.
The forest fires have been particularly ferocious around the densely populated areas of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso Region. Thousands of homes were destroyed in the flames, leaving numerous families homeless and in distress. The hilly settlements around the resort town of Viña del Mar were among the worst affected.
Fast-spreading Wildfires have claimed atleast 112 lives and burned over 43,000 hectares in one of the worst disasters to have hit #Chile since 2010. The worst hit area is Viña del Mar, a city renowned for its botanical garden founded in 1931 which has been destroyed by the fire.… pic.twitter.com/k5u6dSd6vP
— Earth42morrow (@Earth42morrow) February 5, 2024
Firefighters and emergency personnel have been struggling to contain the blaze, which has been fueled by the region’s dry conditions and strong winds. The wildfires death toll has been steadily rising, with reports indicating that hundreds of people are still missing.
Manuel Monsalve, Deputy Interior Minister, said Sunday night that active fires have gone up to 165 from 154 just the day before. Because of the worsening situation, authorities set a curfew in the hardest-hit areas. Also, the military is now helping firefighters stop the spreading flames.
Chile and Argentina, part of South America’s southern tip, are dealing with a serious heatwave right now. Experts say these heatwaves are likely to happen more often during southern hemisphere’s summers, due to climate change.
But the Deputy Interior Minister is hopeful that the situation will get better in the coming days, citing slightly lower temperatures and increased cloud cover as factors that could assist in extinguishing the fires.
Chilean authorities have also declared a state of emergency as they combat the disaster. The Chilean President has described the situation as the worst disaster the nation has faced since the 2010 earthquake.
Image Source: The Weather Channel