Wildfires in Chile claim 12 lives, consume 2,000 homes

At least 12 persons are dead after wildfires in Chile consume 2,00 homes in Chile. That country’s Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo reported that 8,000 people are homeless as a result of the blaze.

Earlier, Chile’s National Emergency Office’s website, citing police, had said that at least 16 people were dead. It was not immediately clear why the reported death tolls were different.

More than 1,200 firefighters worked to control the wind-whipped blaze in Valparaiso and the suburb of Vina del Mar, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said. The wind hampered firefighters’ ability to create firebreaks, and the blaze had spread to more than 2,000 acres, Penailillo said. Bachelet said the firefighters were backed up by 17 aircraft and that additional police were being brought in to prevent looting in the areas abandoned by their residents. Many of the survivors suffered burns, and the most seriously burned patients were being transferred to hospitals in the capital, Santiago, about 75 miles away, the president said.
In images broadcast by CNN sister network CNN Chile, residents could be seen fleeing the flames overnight. The network reported that the sweeping fire is endangering thousands more homes.

In addition, plans were being drawn up to evacuate inmates at Valparaiso prison as a preventive measure, Mayor Jorge Castro said. Earlier, Bachelet had declared a state of emergency, which legally allows armed forces to get involved.

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