Chilean forest fires result in 13 fatalities, disaster-like situation


SANTIAGO: Following a disastrous heat wave that ignited forest fires that claimed the lives of at least 13 people, Chile has declared a state of calamity in various central-southern regions, according to officials. 

Since the flames started on Wednesday, more than 100 homes have been impacted and 47,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed.

The president of the Senaprad national disaster service, Mauricio Tapia, stated, “We must report that there are 13 dead in total, 11 in the Santa Juana municipality.” 

According to Chile’s agriculture minister Esteban Valenzuela, two members of a helicopter crew combating the fires perished in a crash on Friday in the early afternoon. 

In the La Araucania region, a helicopter crash claimed the lives of the pilot and a mechanic who were battling a fire, Valenzuela added. 

Later, Tapia claimed that the mechanic was Chilean and the pilot was Bolivian. 

At least four civilians and a firefighter, who had already been confirmed dead, were among the fatalities.