Chilean President Gabriel Boric has issued a somber warning about the potential rise in the death toll from the devastating wildfires in Chile’s central region. As rescue teams tirelessly search through the rubble of collapsed buildings, the fires have already claimed the lives of at least 112 people, with many more still missing.
The intense forest fires, which have been raging for several days, have left approximately 1,600 people without homes. The affected areas are on the outskirts of Vina del Mar, a coastal city located 75 miles west of the capital, Santiago, and home to around 300,000 residents.
Several neighborhoods on the eastern edge of Vina del Mar have been obliterated, resulting in the loss of homes, and 200 people are currently missing from the city and its surroundings. Adding to the tragedy, a cherished botanical garden established in 1931 has succumbed to the relentless flames.
Chile’s Forensic Medicine Service confirmed the death toll of 112 on Sunday afternoon, extending condolences to the grieving families. President Boric, during his visit to Quilpe, a town east of Vina del Mar, declared two days of national mourning. He expressed concern that the number of casualties might escalate as rescue operations continue, particularly in areas with collapsed structures.
Rodrigo Mundaca, the governor of the Valparaiso region, where Vina del Mar and other affected cities are situated, voiced suspicions on Sunday, suggesting that some of the fires could have been intentionally set. The situation remains critical, with ongoing efforts to address the immediate needs of those impacted by this tragic disaster.