Chile: 22 dead in fires, according to a new report
At least 22 people have died due to 250 forest fires in central Chile, where an intense heat wave is raging, according to a new report revised upwards and published on Saturday by the authorities.
There are also 554 people injured, 16 of them seriously, Interior Minister Carolina Toha said.
Out of 251 fires active, 80 are out of control, said the National Service for Prevention and Response to Disasters (SENAPRED).
A previous report on Saturday reported 16 dead, against 13 on Friday. Among them, a pilot of Bolivian nationality and a mechanic of Chilean nationality, who crashed Friday in a helicopter and who were fighting fires, according to SENAPRED.
Faced with this situation, the Chilean President, Gabriel Boric, declared a state of disaster in the region of Araucanie, after having adopted a similar measure for those of Nuble and Biobio.
Such a measure allows the authorities to restrict the free movement of people and to call in the army when they deem it necessary.
President Boric interrupted his vacation on Friday to go to the city of Concepcion, 510 km south of the capital of Santiago.
“We will not leave you alone”, promised the president on Twitter to the affected Chileans.
These fires occur during an extreme heat wave with temperatures close to 40°C, which makes the authorities fear a disaster like that of 201 7.
That year, a gigantic forest fire killed 11 people, injured some 6,000 people, destroyed more than 1,500 homes and ravaged 467,000 hectares of land.