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Chile wildfires leave at least 19 dead; state of emergency declared

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NEW DELHI: Chilean firefighters are currently battling to contain the fast-spreading wildfires. At least 19 people have lost their lives and toll may increase, Interior Minister Carolina Toha said on Saturday.
President Gabriel Boric has declared a state of emergency. This declaration aims to ensure that all necessary resources are available to combat the fires.
Since Friday, approximately twelve fires have been raging in the Vina del Mar and Valparaiso tourist regions.These fires have caused significant damage to thousands of hectares of forest and have engulfed coastal cities in a thick fog of gray smoke, leading to the evacuation of residents.
Sofia Gonzales Cortes, the state representative for the central region of Valparaiso, stated that there have been reports of several deaths. In the towns of Estrella and Navidad, located southwest of the capital, nearly 30 homes have been destroyed, and evacuations have been carried out in the vicinity of the surfing resort of Pichilemu.
Yvonne Guzman, a 63-year-old resident, said, “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s very distressing, because we’ve evacuated the house, but we can’t move forward. There are all these people trying to get out and who can’t move.”
When the flames approached her home in Quilpue, she and her elderly mother had to flee but encountered heavy traffic, leaving them stranded for hours.”
Emergency services are trying to assess the situation. Authorities earlier closed the road that connects Valparaiso to the capital Santiago, because of low “reduced visibility”.
Three shelters have been established in the Valparaiso region, and Toha mentioned that rescue teams are still facing difficulties in accessing the most severely impacted neighborhoods. Toha also stated that the authorities have deployed 19 helicopters and over 450 firefighters to tackle the fires.

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