Death toll from Chile forest fires rises to 11

Santa Olga is among the Chilean towns devastated by the forest fires, which have forced more than 2,000 people into shelters and damaged or destroyed over 4,000 dwellings in the country. Fires are common in Chile's parched forests during summer, but
Santa Olga is among the Chilean towns devastated by the forest fires, which have forced more than 2,000 people into shelters and damaged or destroyed over 4,000 dwellings in the country. Fires are common in Chile's parched forests during summer, but are worse than usual this year because of a drought attributed to climate change.PHOTO: REUTERS

SANTIAGO • Forest fires ravaging southern Chile have killed 11 people, President Michelle Bachelet said, as firefighters waged an all-out battle to extinguish the raging infernos.

Ms Bachelet told reporters on Saturday that more than 9,000 firefighters and other responders have been enlisted to battle the fires, which have destroyed almost 480,000ha in seven regions of the South American nation. "We are fighting the fire without pause and without precedent," she declared.

The fires have forced more than 2,000 people into shelters and damaged or destroyed over 4,000 dwellings.

Among the countries that have dispatched aid to help put out the fires are Argentina, Spain, France, Portugal and Mexico.

Chile's national forestry service, Conaf, said there were a total of 110 separate fires, 50 of which are under control, while 60 are still being fought. Fires are common in Chile's parched forests during the southern hemisphere's summer. Most are caused by human activity.

More than 35 people have been arrested and accused of playing a role in starting or propagating the fires. Fire activity this year is worse than usual because of a drought attributed by environmentalists to climate change.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Death toll from Chile forest fires rises to 11'. Print Edition | Subscribe