Chile forest fires kill 16, destroy 88 homes: Officials
The forest fires raging through southern Chile have killed 16 deaths so far, destroyed at least 88 homes and swept through 47,000 hectares of forests.
The forest fires raging through southern Chile have resulted in 16 deaths so far, raising the number by three from the toll announced late Friday, officials said Saturday.
Authorities said earlier that eleven of the deaths were in the town of Santa Juana, in Concepcion province, and two were crew members of helicopter fighting fires who died in a crash Friday afternoon.
One firefighter has also died and at least eight suffered injuries while battling the blazes.
A devastating heat wave sparked the fires, which were a threat to several rural towns, destroyed at least 88 homes, and swept through 47,000 hectares (116,000 acres) of forest, officials said.
The National Disaster Prevention and Response Service said that at least 24 people have been injured due to the 251 active fires, 80 of which were out of control.
Earlier, Chile announced a state of disaster in several central-southern areas, including the Nuble and Biobio regions to allow extra resources to be rushed to the area.
However, the fires have also affected the Maule and La Araucania regions.
In all, around 2,300 firefighters and 75 aircraft have been deployed in the region to suppress the fires.
Consequently, President Gabriel Boric suspended his holiday to examine the affected area.
The heatwave, with temperatures reaching 40C (104 degrees Fahrenheit), has raised fears of a repeat of 2017, when widespread fires in the same region resulted in the killing of 11 people and destroyed 1,500 homes.
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