The death toll from the central Chile wildfires reached 122 on Monday as emergency crews discovered more bodies in the aftermath of the fires that began three days ago.
Residents in the central region were forced to evacuate their homes. After touring the affected areas, President Boric, in a Sunday news conference, voiced apprehension about the potential for a significant increase in the death toll. In a televised statement last week, President Boric said that the defense ministry would deploy extra military personnel to the affected regions, ensuring the provision of essential supplies.
The ongoing fires have forced evacuations across various areas in central Chile. Notably, in February 2023, the country witnessed fires that consumed over 400,000 hectares and claimed the lives of more than 22 individuals.
Chile, Argentina, and other regions in the southern cone of South America are currently grappling with an intense heatwave, a phenomenon anticipated to become increasingly frequent during the southern hemisphere’s summer months, attributed to climate change, as stated by experts.
The challenging weather conditions in Chile are further intensified by the El Niño weather phenomenon, characterized by the warming of the Pacific Ocean.
Jesica Barrios, who lost her home in Vina del Mar, told Reuters over the weekend that the fire had arrived “from one moment to the next”.
“The fire reached the botanical park and then in ten minutes it was already on us,” she said. “There was smoke, the sky turned black, everything was dark. The wind felt like a hurricane. It was like being in hell.”
(With inputs from agencies)
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Published: 06 Feb 2024, 12:08 PM IST