Forest fires in Chile: At least 64 people killed in the Valparaiso region

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Watch: A deadly forest fire sweeps through the coastal city of Vina del Mar

Chile's president said that at least 64 people had died due to forest fires in the Valparaiso region of Chile.

Gabriel Buric declared a state of emergency and said he would provide “all necessary resources” to address the situation.

This is believed to be Chile's deadliest forest fire ever. Many of those affected were visiting the coastal area during the summer vacation.

A health alert has been put in place in Valparaiso by the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry called for suspending elective surgeries and authorizing the establishment of temporary field hospitals.

The Ministry announced in the same statement that medical students who are nearing the end of their studies will be employed to help relieve pressure on the health service.

Rescue services are struggling to reach the worst-hit areas, and Interior Minister Carolina Toha said the death toll “will reach much higher numbers” in the coming hours.

The Chilean government urged people not to travel to areas affected by the fires.

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

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In El Olivar, a district in Viña del Mar (Valparaiso region), many houses burned due to forest fires

A 61-year-old El Olívar resident described the ordeal as “hell.”

Rodrigo Polgar told AFP news agency that he tried to help his neighbor but then realized that his house was starting to burn.

“Ashes were raining down on us,” Polgar added.

He explained that most of El Olívar's residents are elderly people, and said his neighbor died because they couldn't get her out.

The Housing Ministry said that between 3,000 and 6,000 homes were affected by the fires.

On Saturday, a curfew was imposed on residents of Viña del Mar, Limash, Quilboy and Villa Alemana.

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Chilean President Gabriel Buric flies over the Valparaiso region to assess the damage

Buric said the curfew would help free up roads and allow emergency vehicles to reach affected areas.

About 1,400 firefighters were deployed on Sunday, the Interior Minister said in an address to the nation.

Military personnel have been deployed alongside emergency services, and the cause of the fires is being investigated.

To avoid escalating an already sensitive situation, the government banned handling of fires and heat-producing machinery in Valparaiso and the nearby Marga Marga region.

The coastal city of Valparaíso is located 116 kilometers (72 mi) from the capital, Santiago, and receives many tourists during the summer.

According to local media reports, the Regional Committee for Disaster Risk Management (COGRID) said 45 of the dead were found dead at the scene, and six others succumbed to their injuries in health care centres.

Last year, the regions of Biobio and Noble – to the south of Valparaiso – suffered from deadly wildfires, which appear to have become more frequent and deadly.

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