Sunday, October 24, 2021

Six people killed by Chile wildfires

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Picture taken during a forest fire in Vichuquen, 283 km south of Santiago, on January 24, 2017.
Chile’s president ordered extra funds Tuesday to be spent on fighting the country’s worst forest fires ever, as frantic locals called for help to save their homes, animals and farmland. Flames have destroyed 155,000 hectares (600 square miles) of land in the center of the country and at least 4,000 people have been evacuated, the National Emergency Office said. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI

Six people — among them four firefighters and two police — have now been killed battling vast forest fires in central Chile, officials said Wednesday.

“I can now say officially that there are two more fatalities — two Chilean police who were found in the Maule River,” said Interior Minister Mario Fernandez, raising the total death toll to six.

Earlier in the day a firefighter died after getting stuck while trying to help a family escape from their home near the city of Constitucion, a source in the fire service told AFP.

And over the past week three other firefighters died and another three were injured, authorities said earlier.

Multiple blazes have ravaged 238,000 hectares (588,000 acres) and are growing, the National Forestry Corporation said in a statement.

Frantic locals have been joining in efforts to tackle the blaze to save their homes, animals and farmland.

President Michelle Bachelet Tuesday ordered extra funds to fight what she called the country’s worst forest fires ever.

At least 4,000 people have been evacuated, the National Emergency Office said on Tuesday.

The fires have struck mainly in sparsely populated rural areas in the central regions of O’Higgins and El Maule.

The United States has offered $100,000 for the firefighting effort, and France and Mexico have sent personnel to help.

Fires are common in Chile’s parched woods during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. Most are caused by human activity.

But this year was considered worse because of a drought attributed by environmentalists to climate change.

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