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More than 300 people missing in Chile

Photo: Javier Torres Agence France-Presse The fires in Valparaíso are considered the deadliest disaster in Chile since the 2010 earthquake.

Associated Press in Viña del Mar

2:17 p.m.

  • Americas

More than 300 people were still missing in Chile on Tuesday, as forest fires that ravaged the center of the country for several days and killed at least 131 people appeared to be extinguishing themselves .

Authorities were assessing damage after fires in Valparaíso, considered Chile's deadliest disaster since the 2010 earthquake. Officials suggested some fires may have been set intentionally.

During a visit to the region, President Gabriel Boric announced that furniture used for the 2023 Pan American Games would be donated to the victims. He added that the government would also cancel the water bills of 9,200 affected households.

The fires broke out Friday on the mountainous eastern edge of Viña del Mar, a seaside resort known for its festival that attracts the cream of Latin music. Two other towns, Quilpé and Villa Alemana, were also hit hard.

The Viña del Mar festival has canceled its opening gala as a sign of mourning. Many participating singers, including Alejandro Sanz, Pablo Alborán and Maná, sent messages of solidarity and announced donations.

Chile's forensic medicine service stressed that many bodies recovered from the fires were in poor condition and difficult to identify, but that forensic doctors would take samples of genetic material from people who report their loved ones missing.

“My parents and sisters’ house burned down, and my neighbors ― the ones who knew me when I was little ― are dead,” said Gabriel Leiva, 46, as he sifted through the debris in Viña del Mar. He added that his neighbors were “a family that is not of blood, but of heart.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116