Drama in Chile: the toll of the forest fires increases, at least 23 people have lost their lives

Steph Deschamps / February 8, 2023

At least 23 people have died in dozens of forest fires in central Chile, where an intense heat wave is raging, according to a new death toll published Saturday eveningby the authorities. 
We mourn the death of 23 people," said Interior Undersecretary Manuel  Monsalve, who also said that 979 people were injured. The previous death toll was 22. Among them, a pilot of Bolivian nationality and a mechanic of Chilean nationality who crashed on Friday in a helicopter that was fighting fires, according to the National Service of Prevention and Response to Disasters (Senapred).
Monsalve said of the 232 active fires Saturday, 83 remain out of control. Of these, 76 started on Friday, 16 on Saturday.
Faced with this situation, Chilean President Gabriel Boric declared a state of disaster in the region of La Araucania, 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 visit the city of  Concepcion, 510 km south of the capital Santiago.
"We will not leave you alone," the president promised on Twitter to the affected Chileans.
These fires are occurring during an extreme heat wave with temperatures near 40ºC, causing authorities to fear a disaster like the one in 2017.
That year, a gigantic forest fire killed 11 people, affected some 6,000, destroyed more than 1,500 homes and ravaged 467,000 hectares of land.
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