The death toll in Chile’s forest fires rose to 112 on Sunday night, the authorities reported, while the president, Gabriel Boric assured that the country is facing a tragedy of “very great magnitude” and that the number of victims will continue to be “significant.”
Most of the fire involved the coastal region of Valparaíso, home to almost a million inhabitants, the seat of Congress, and one of the main ports of the country. On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of firefighters, soldiers, and brigade members battled to extinguish several outbreaks in the center and south of the country.
“We are facing a tragedy of great magnitude,” Boric said in a message to the nation, adding that he had decided to maintain the curfew and strengthen the military presence in the most affected areas.
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The fires in Chile have caused more than a hundred deaths. The city of Valparaíso, in the south-central part of the country, was damaged by fire.
The Legal Medical Service said the death toll rose from 99 to 112 on Sunday night.
In addition to Valparaíso, the fire is active in the central regions of O’Higgins, Maule, and Ñuble and southern La Araucanía.
“We know that this number will grow; it will grow significantly,” Boric added.
The worst tragedy since the 2010 earthquake
Authorities say the tragedy is the worst since a powerful earthquake in 2010 that left half a thousand dead, nearly 500,000 homes affected, two million homeless, and ruined coastal cities.
Boric reported that he declared national mourning for two days starting Monday “because all of Chile is suffering and mourning our dead.”
The fire also forced the shutdown of the Aconcagua refinery, the second largest in the country, located about 15 kilometers north of the coastal city of Viña del Mar, which was badly affected by the fires.
Last year, due to a record heat wave, fires left 30 people dead and affected more than 400,000 hectares across Chile.