Between anguish and discouragement, Chile is now preparing to count its deaths from the fires that broke out on Friday. As the fire dissipates in the Chilean region of Valparaiso and the smoke diminishes, the dimensions of the tragedy They are starting to become clearer.
Authorities confirmed on Sunday that There are 112 deaths and they estimate that about 15,000 houses were damaged in the four affected towns, which would be equivalent to about 40,000 affected.
Photograph of burned-out homes in Villa Independencia, in Viña del Mar. Photo: EFE
These figures still need to be confirmed by reality in the coming days, but in any case it seems clear that the magnitude of the destruction is enormous. President Gabriel Boric said on Sunday that this is the worst tragedy the country has experienced in terms of number of victims since the earthquake of February 27, 2010.
The president decreed two days of mourning official starting Monday.
“Like an atomic bomb”
“It's as if it had been an atomic bomb,” says Marcela while showing Chilean television the magnitude of the damage. She walks between two blackened walls that are still standing. On the floor there is nothing but a pile of metal sheets, and only his oven has not burned completely.
“There were gigantic flames in the street. “The neighbors burned to death trying to escape.”Add.
The ferocious forest fires in Valparaíso and Marga, in Chile, have already claimed 112 lives, according to the latest report from local authorities, who also report lto the arrest of two people considered suspected of starting fires.
The head of National Defense in the provinces of Valparaíso and Marga Marga, Rear Admiral Daniel Muñoz, confirmed that two suspects of starting fires in the vicinity of the Botanical Garden of Viña del Mar were arrested, reported the BioBio portal.
People from the irregular camp “Pompeya” collect debris after the fires. Photo: EFE
Muñoz pointed out that patrolling with police and military personnel is being intensified in the disaster area and that thanks to this, two suspects detected by the flight of a helicopter dand the Air Force.
A curfew is in effect in the region that was brought forward to 6 p.m.
Furthermore, in the early hours of Monday, residents of the affected areas have chased individuals who believe they are suspected of starting fires.
Gabriel Boric assured that the country faces a tragedy of “very great magnitude” and that the number of victims will continue to grow “significantly.”
The highest authorities of the Valparaíso region have requested that the work of the investigation of the deceased be accelerated given the high number of people reported to the police as missing.
Some “190 people are still missing in Viña del Mar,” the mayor of that city, Macarena Ripamonti, said in a press conference.
The fire is concentrated in the Valparaíso coastal region, home to almost a million inhabitants, headquarters of Congress and one of the country's main ports.
Hundreds of firefighters, soldiers and brigade members fight to put out several outbreaks in the center and south of the country.
“We are facing a tragedy of very large magnitudes,” Boric said in a message to the nation, where he added that he made the decision to maintain the curfew and reinforce the presence of the military in the most affected areas.
In addition to Valparaísothe fire was active in the central regions O'Higgins, Maule and Ñuble and the southern La Araucanía.
The high temperatures, wind and low humidity quickly spread the forest fire, which quickly reached homes, explains Joan Saavedra, an urban planner from Valparaíso who saw the fire 300 meters from his house.
Long rows of charred cars are beginning to be seen in Viña del Mar. Photo: Rodrigo Arangua/ AFP
“The first neighborhoods that were affected were informal settlements illegally built on the outskirts of the city, very exposed on these slopes with trees sensitive to fire. This first line was affected, and then the flames spread to more formal neighborhoods,” he explains.
With several extinct outbreaks near the most populated hills, they are beginning to be seen in Viña del Mar residential hills reduced to ashes and long rows of charred cars on the streets.
It is unknown if they are parked vehicles or people trying to evacuate and were trapped in traffic, trying to escape under a shower of forest embers.
The fire also forced work to be stopped at the Aconcagua refinery, the second largest in the country, located about 15 kilometers north of the coastal city Viña del Mar, heavily affected by the fires.
With information from ANSA and RFI