State of emergency declared in Chile as wildfire death toll rises

By Lisa James
05/02/2024
Home » State of emergency declared in Chile as wildfire death toll rises

A state of emergency and two days of mourning have been declared in Chile after wildfires killed at least 112 people.

President Gabriel Boric has warned the death toll is likely to rise, with about 200 people reported missing from the coastal city of Vina del Mar, a popular beach resort. He said the country faces a ‘tragedy of very great magnitude’.

At least 1,600 people are homeless as a result of the fires, which started last week on the outskirts of Vina del Mar, about 75 miles west of capital Santiago. The city is in Chile’s Valparaiso wine region.

The country’s Forensic Medicine Service said on Sunday afternoon that at least 112 people are known to have died.

The latest advice from the UK Foreign Office says: “Severe forest fires are burning in multiple regions of Chile. You should monitor local media for updates and follow the advice of local authorities.”

It added: “Active forest fires are currently affecting multiple areas of Chile, including parts of Valparaíso, Metropolitan Santiago, O’Higgins, Maule, Biobío, La Araucanía, Los Lagos and Aysén,

“The Chilean authorities have declared a state of emergency owing to these forest fires. Local authorities have closed roads and issued evacuation orders in various locations.

“To facilitate the work of emergency services and evacuations, the authorities have imposed curfews in several municipalities. Further evacuations or curfews may be declared in the coming hours and days if the fires continue to spread.

“Shelters have been established in some locations.”

The FCDO said Brits should carry identification at all times and ‘make evacuation plans that do not rely on British government assistance’.

Latin American Travel Association (LATA) Chairman Martin Johnson said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic forest fires in the Valparaiso region of Chile. Our thoughts are with all the victims and their loved ones, as well as our LATA members on the ground and the wider Chilean community.

“The forest fires have taken place in the central region of Valparaiso which is a popular port city as well as in the vicinity of the nearby beach resort, Viña del Mar on the Pacific coastline.  We understand that the authorities and firefighters are working rigorously to contain the fires and a number of curfews have been put in place in the area over the last few days. The Government of Chile has declared two days of national mourning taking place on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 February.

“It is worth remembering that that these forest fires are restricted to the Valparaiso region, and we understand that 15 of the 16 Chilean regions have not been affected.

“We continue to liaise with the Chilean authorities and our Chilean members on the ground, but we would currently advise anyone travelling to Chile to avoid the areas impacted and to follow the guidance of their tour operator and the local authorities.”

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