At least four people have died victims of the fire in the virulent forest fires that plague the central Chilean region of Biobío, Interior Minister Carolina Toha reported this Friday.
In statements to journalists, Minister Toha indicated that two of the victims "They are people who were moving on a main road," in a vehicle, and another that did the same on an interior road
"In one case they burned, because they were hit by fire. In the other, probably trying to escape the fire"he claimed.
"All these people are confirmed cases that we want to regret and send our condolences to their families and acquaintances. This happened in the commune of Santa Juana, one of the affected communes and where particular attention is going to be paid today,” he added.
The local Biobío radio indicated, for its part, that according to its own information, the fourth victim is a volunteer firefighter who suffered a heart attack.
The emergency of the situation, with the fire reaching populated areas and the Army mobilized in evacuation tasks, this Friday led the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, to interrupt his vacation in Patagonia, in the extreme south, to travel to the areas affected by forest fires.
The flames have destroyed more than 8,000 hectares, damaged a hundred homes in the middle of an intense heat wave, and forced to flee to the fauna, like a puma that was run over by a vehicle on a local highway.
"I have instructed to decree the State of Constitutional Exception of Catastrophe to fight the forest fires that affect the Biobío Region and ensure the safety of people. I will visit the Region of Ñuble and Biobío to accompany the families. We are with you!"the president said on his Twitter account.
Boric traveled on a commercial flight to Patagonia on Thursday to spend part of his vacation with his partner, Irina Karamanos, and during the afternoon he was seen shopping at a supermarket in the city of Coyhaique, the capital of Aysén and located almost 1,400 kilometers south of Santiago.
The declaration of emergency for the Biobío region adds to the one issued on Thursday night for the neighboring region of Ñuble, 400 kilometers south of the capital.
The measure allows the Government, among other things, to deliver aid to those affected more expeditiously and mobilize resources in these two regions, with intense agricultural and forestry activity.
According to the National Service for Disaster Prevention and Response (Senapred) of the Ministry of the Interior, there are 37 fires in combat from the metropolitan region of Santiago to the south, concentrated in the southern regions of Ñuble, Biobío and La Araucanía.
There are also a hundred homes affected and a number of municipalities have been evicted and their citizens have taken refuge in shelters, according to the report.
The fires coincide with an unprecedented heat wave in the south for decades and with temperatures that can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius in southern areas.
President @GabrielBoric decrees a State of Constitutional Exception of Catastrophe in the Biobío Region to fight the fires that affect the territory and deploy all protection resources for citizens.
– Presidency of Chile (@Presidencia_cl) February 3, 2023