We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Fire burns in Viña del Mar Cristobal Basaure Araya/Sipa US/Alamy

Wildfires in central Chile kill at least 64 people, with death toll continuing to rise

Dry conditions and temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius have allowed the fires to spread.


WILDFIRES BLAZING IN central Chile have now killed at least 64 people and the toll will keep rising, President Gabriel Boric said, as the disaster left bodies in the streets and homes gutted.

Authorities warned of “complicated” conditions as they battled fires in the coastal tourist region of Valparaiso amid an intense summer heat wave, with temperatures soaring to 40 degrees over the weekend.

“We can sadly confirm that there are 64 deaths,” Boric said from Quilpue, outside the hard-hit city of Vina del Mar.

“The figure is going to rise. We know it is going to increase in a significant way,” he added, saying it was the country’s deadliest disaster since a 2010 earthquake and tsunami that killed 500 people.

Death toll could rise

Boric has declared a state of emergency, pledging government support to help people get back on their feet after he flew over the affected area in a helicopter yesterday afternoon.

According to the national disaster service, SENAPRED, nearly 26,000 hectares had been burned across the central and southern regions by today.

SENAPRED chief Alvaro Hormazabal said firefighters were battling 34 blazes as of Sunday morning, with 43 others under control.

Weather “conditions are going to continue to be complicated,” Hormazabal said.

Authorities imposed had a curfew beginning at 9:00pm last night  while thousands in the affected areas were ordered to evacuate their homes.

In the hillsides around Vina del Mar, AFP reporters saw entire blocks of houses that were burned out overnight Friday into Saturday.

Some of the dead were seen lying on the road, covered by sheets.

The fires, blazing for days, forced authorities on Friday to close the road linking the Valparaiso region to the capital Santiago, about 1.5 hours away, as a huge mushroom cloud of smoke impaired visibility.

Images posted online from trapped motorists showed mountains in flames at the end of the famous “Route 68″ leading to the Pacific coast.

According to Interior Minister Carolina Toha, the weekend blazes have been “without a doubt” the deadliest fire event in Chile’s history.

The fires are being driven by a summer heatwave and drought affecting the southern part of South America caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, as scientists warn that a warming planet has increased the risk of natural disasters such as intense heat and fires.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel