CNN

At least 99 people dead as wildfires rage in Chile, with fears toll could rise further

Feb 5, 2024, 5:30 AM

Chile wildfires...

Lines of traffic on Route 68, a road leading to the coast. (Bomberos de Chile)

(Bomberos de Chile)

Originally Published: 03 FEB 24 21:23 ET
Updated: 04 FEB 24 17:01 ET

(CNN) — At least 99 people have been killed in Chile as forest fires rage throughout the country, CNN Chile reported Sunday afternoon, citing the government’s Legal Medical Service (SML), with authorities warning the death toll is likely to rise.

A state of emergency has been declared as coastal cities like Viña del Mar and Valparaiso are choked in smoke and people living in central regions are forced to leave their homes.

There are 161 active fires across the country, according to Álvaro Hormazábal, director of the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service. Speaking on CNN Chile, Hormazábal said that firefighters have controlled 102 of those fires and are currently battling 40, while 19 are under observation.

President Gabriel Boric, in a press conference Sunday held after he visited the affected areas, said the death toll “will increase significantly” and declared Monday and Tuesday as days of national mourning for fire victims. So far, 32 people have been identified by SML, CNN Chile reports.

Rodrigo Mundaca, the governor of the Valparaiso region, said Sunday that authorities were upholding a curfew in the towns of Viña del Mar, Quilpué, Villa Alemana and Limache to allow authorities to focus on battling the blazes.

The mayor of Quilpué, Valeria Melipillán, told CNN Chile that the fire was “probably the largest ever” in the region and that nearly 1,400 houses in the municipality had been damaged. Authorities in Melipillán added that while evacuation efforts had been efficient, some people in the affected areas did not want to leave their homes.

Pope Francis in a post on ‘X’ called upon people to “pray for the deceased and injured victims of the devastating fires that have affected central Chile.”

In a televised statement on Saturday, Boric said that the defense ministry would deploy more military units to affected areas, with all necessary resources made available.

Earlier, Chile’s Finance Minister Mario Marcel told reporters that a preliminary estimate for damages in the Valaparaíso region would reach the “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The fires come as the country is hit by a summer heatwave, with Chile’s capital Santiago sweltering through consecutive days of hot, dry temperatures climbing above 33 degrees Celsius (91.4°F).

Scientists say climate change and the El Nino weather phenomenon are driving forces behind an increasingly warm planet, making events such as heatwaves and fires more likely.

At least one person has been detained so far in connection to the wildfires, CNN Chile reported.

According to police, the man was at his home in the city of Talca in central Chile doing welding work when a fire accidentally started and spread to nearby grasslands, CNN Chile reported. The suspect will be arraigned on Sunday in Talca, according to the Maule Prosecutor’s Office.

Emergency crews are prioritizing the fires in the port city of Valparaíso on Chile’s coast because of their proximity to urban areas and around 372 residents have been reported missing, according to its mayor.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

CNN

Afghan relatives offer prayers during a burial ceremony near the graves of victims who lost their l...

Niamh Kennedy and Radina Gigova, CNN

At least 300 people killed by flash floods in Afghanistan

At least 300 people have died in flash flooding that has ravaged northern Afghanistan in recent days, the Word Food Programme said Sunday.

1 month ago

The Apple Store at Towson Town Center Mall in Maryland is pictured. Apple Store workers in Towson, ...

Jordan Valinsky, CNN

Apple Store workers in Maryland vote to authorize strike

Apple Store workers in Towson, Maryland made history by voting late May 11 in favor of authorizing a strike.

1 month ago

Smoke from wildfires blankets the city as a couple has a picnic in Edmonton, Alberta, Saturday, May...

Paradise Afshar and Sara Smart, CNN

Canadians evacuate due to wildfires as air quality deteriorates

Thousands across Canada were urged to evacuate from blazing wildfires on Saturday, and the smoke emanating from them could be another danger.

1 month ago

Salvage crew members work on the deck of the cargo ship Dali on Friday, May 10....

Nicole Grether and Gloria Pazmino, CNN

Crews could use explosives to demolish part of Baltimore’s Key Bridge

Crews are expected to execute a plan to use small explosives to break apart a massive chunk of the Baltimore bridge that collapsed.

1 month ago

The sun is rising with a flare over Korla, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, on May 10....

Brian Fung, CNN

Why tonight’s massive solar storm could disrupt communications and GPS systems

An unusual amount of solar activity due to a solar storm this week could disrupt some of the most important technologies society relies on.

1 month ago

A customer wipes sweat from their face as they work out on a treadmill inside a Planet Fitness Inc....

Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Planet Fitness will raise its $10 membership plan for the first time in 26 years

Planet Fitness will raise the price of its “classic” membership from $10 a month to $15 for new members beginning in the summer.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

At least 99 people dead as wildfires rage in Chile, with fears toll could rise further