Wildfires rage in Chile, at least 22 dead

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Forest fires rage in Chile, at least 22 dead

Chilean President Gabriel Boric has declared a state of disaster in several areas ravaged by flames.

At least 22 people have died in more than 250 wildfires in central Chile, where an intense heat wave is raging, according to a report released Saturday by authorities.

About 251 active fires, 80 are out of control, said the National Service for Prevention and Response to Disasters (Senapred).

Among the victims are a pilot of Bolivian nationality and a mechanic of Chilean nationality who crashed Friday in a helicopter that was fighting fires, according to Senapred.

Faced with this situation, the Chilean President, Gabriel Boric, declared a state of disaster in the region of La Araucania, after adopting a similar measure for those of Nuble and Biobio.< /p>

Such a measure allows the authorities in particular to restrict the free movement of people and to call in the army when they deem it necessary.

President Boric interrupted his vacation on Friday to travel to the city of Concepción, 510 km south of the capital, Santiago.

We will not leave you alone, promised the president on Twitter to affected Chileans.

Residents try to put out fires in Chilean town by Tome.

These fires occur during an extreme heat wave with temperatures close to 40 ºC, which makes authorities fear a disaster like that of 2017.

That year, a gigantic The forest fire killed 11, injured some 6,000, destroyed more than 1,500 homes and ravaged 467,000 hectares of land.

As in the previous disaster, the fires started in agricultural regions and forests before spreading and threatening inhabited areas.

One ​​of the epicenters of the tragedy is the city of Santa Juana, 52 km to the south de Concepción.

I only ask God for mercy. That's it. What happens is in God's hands, said a resident, interviewed by Cooperativa radio.

The Chilean prosecutor's office meanwhile announced that two people linked to the fires in the regions of Biobío and La Araucanía had been stopped.