Chile forest fires: 112 dead with death toll expected to rise

Hundreds of people are missing as firefighters battle to quell fierce blazes in Valparaiso region

Firefighters in central Chile on Sunday battled to quell fierce forest fires that have killed 112 people so far and razed entire neighbourhoods, while President Gabriel Boric warned the country faces a “tragedy of very great magnitude”.

Hundreds of people are still missing, authorities say, stoking fears the death toll will keep climbing as more bodies are found on hillsides and houses devastated by the wildfires.

Authorities in Chile’s Valparaiso region extended stay-at-home orders as forest fires continued to rage in the country’s deadliest disaster since a massive earthquake in 2010.

Blazes that began on Friday spread through bushland and into populated areas on the edge of the coastal city of Viña del Mar, about 120km (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, fed by blustering wind and high temperatures.


Power and water services have been disrupted, causing Chile’s second-largest oil refinery to halt operations. Authorities said the fires may have been intentionally lit.

“It’s evident that it was intentional” because four separate fires started simultaneously in the same forest, Valparaíso governor Rodrigo Mundaca told reporters on Sunday.

Mr Boric declared a state of emergency in the Valparaiso region late Friday. The government announced a 6pm and 10am curfew in major cities in the area including Viña del Mar to make it easier for rescue vehicles and equipment to get through.

The government estimates that between 3,000 hectares (7,413 acres) and 6,000 hectares and 3,000 homes have been destroyed so far, with at least 1,600 people occupying shelters as authorities and NGOs start relief efforts.

More than 300 people are still unaccounted for, according to officials. – Agencies