NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 01:05
At least seven people have died in wildfires in Chile and thousands of hectares of nature have been reduced to ashes. Hundreds of homes have been lost. More than 150 wildfires are now raging in the South American country, less than half of which are under control.
The Chilean government has designated parts of the Biobío and Ñuble regions, south of the capital Santiago, as disaster areas. The state of emergency is in force there, giving the government more options to set up fire and rescue operations in collaboration with the army.
It is now summer in Chile and the affected regions are ravaged by a heat wave. The great drought and heat are accompanied by strong winds, causing fires in all kinds of places that are difficult to fight. These conditions are expected to persist for a while, so that the fires can continue to rage in many places.
Firefighter run over
At least four of the deaths occurred in Biobío. It is believed the victims tried to flee the fire by car. One of the cars was unable to escape from the flames in time. The other victims died in a car accident.
A firefighter was also killed in the area. He would have been run over by a fire truck during firefighting operations. Furthermore, a helicopter with two people on board crashed while fighting the fire.
President to affected area
It is still unclear exactly how many buildings have gone up in flames, but the damage is expected to be extensive. “Families are having a very hard time,” said Mayor Rivas of Tomé in Biobío. “They are going through hell. The fire has escaped us.”
President Boric has cut short his vacation and will visit the affected areas. He says there are indications that some of the wildfires were lit. “All possibilities that the government has are now being used. This is done primarily to fight the fire, but also to assist all victims,” said Boric.
The wildfires have also left one of Chile’s great mysteries – the cause of death of Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda – still unsolved. It has been speculated for decades that Neruda did not die of prostate cancer, but was actually poisoned. It was expected that there would be new developments in that case this week.
Experts were due to present the results of a major new investigation into Neruda’s death. However, according to the Ministry of Justice, the doctor responsible is now in a region affected by the wildfires and was therefore unable to connect to the internet, so the presentation of the research results had to be postponed.
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