Death Toll Hits Heartbreaking Numbers as Disaster Ravages Country

( – Central Chile is reeling from intense forest fires that have devastated the region, claiming at least 131 lives and reducing over a thousand homes to ashes. As flames continue to rage, the scale of the tragedy deepens.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric, grappling with the enormity of the tragedy, remarked on Saturday that the toll was expected to rise further in the ensuing hours, acknowledging somberly following the initial count of 46 casualties.

Interior Minister Carolina Tohá painted a dire picture on Saturday, revealing 92 active wildfires burning across central and southern Chile, fueled by unseasonably high temperatures. Valparaíso, the epicenter of the disaster, witnessed the deadliest fires, with authorities urging residents to stay indoors to allow emergency responders free passage.

Tohá, emphasizing the ongoing firefighting efforts, avoided details about the victims. She highlighted two fires near Quilpué and Villa Alemana, which have devoured 8,000 hectares since Friday. The blaze also approached the coastal resort town of Viña del Mar, where neighborhoods have already been consumed.

In Villa Independencia, on Viña del Mar’s eastern edge, scenes of utter destruction paint a heartbreaking picture. Entire blocks smolder, victims of flames that left nothing in their wake. Residents like Rolando Fernández recounted his harrowing escape as he fled while the inferno engulfed his home and life’s work.

In response to the devastation, authorities have set up three shelters in the Valparaíso region to house displaced residents while 19 helicopters and over 450 firefighters battle the fire. Despite their valiant efforts, access to the most severely affected areas remains a challenge due to rugged terrain and dangerous conditions.

However, the fires’ impact extended beyond the immediate devastation as they plunged parts of the region into darkness due to power outages. Tohá lamented the evacuation of four hospitals and three nursing homes, highlighting the widespread disruption caused by the blaze. The voracious flames also destroyed two bus terminals.

This year, the El Niño weather pattern in South America’s western region has brought droughts and hotter temperatures, raising the risk of forest fires. In January, over 42,000 acres of forests in Colombia were destroyed by fires after weeks of dry weather.

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