The number of deaths from the unprecedented series of forest fires in southern Chile reached 24 this Saturday and the authorities speak of
the worst catastrophe in years
, with a total of 979 injured and a horizon with rain of ash and uncontrollable flames.
More than 2,300 brigade members of the National Forestry Corporation (Conaf) continued this Sunday in the tasks of combating the voracious tongues of fire, the authorities
arrested ten people
for their alleged involvement in the devastating fires.
One of them was surprised with a fuel drum, it was reported.
The international community mobilized this weekend to send aid.
Brigade members will arrive from Brazil and Ecuador;
technicians and a small plane from Venezuela;
40 brigade members and 4 trucks from Argentina;
the embassy of the United States had economic resources;
Spain committed 60 brigade members and 2 planes.
President Gabriel Boric thanked the international aid and his government
to request their collaboration in the fight against the fire.
On Saturday, different sectors of the communes of the three regions that are under
state of catastrophe,
because the flames were approaching the houses with dangerous speed.
Firefighters battle the fire in Puren, in southern Chile.
Juan José Ugarte, president of the Timber Corporation (Corma), described the situation as "hell, it rains ashes and only flames can be seen on the horizon."
"In three days what should happen in two years originated," he said.
The leader of the trade association that brings together more than 160 actors in the forestry sector launched a strong request to prevent the death of more people.
"There are already 162,000 hectares of burnt surface. The situation is hell, it is raining ashes and only flames can be seen on the horizon. In three days what should happen in two years originated. We ask for an urgent ceasefire, when the man behind, due to negligence or intentionality," he requested.
Ugarte called to use the tools that the State of Exception allows.
"We have the experience of 2017 when this state was used in depth, this means a curfew in the most affected communes, a ban on the sale of fuel in drums, armed forces patrolling in the sectors, road control and only then will we be able to comply that first objective", he enumerated.
Ash rain over Santa Juana, in the province of Concepción, in Chile.
"We cannot continue having more than 100 fires per day. The capacities are at the limit and the south of Chile is burning us," he said.
Ugarte was emphatic in assuring that behind the fires "is the hand of man" and that
there must be an exemplary punishment
for those guilty of these incidents.
"We are compiling the folders to deliver them to the Public Ministry. There are already detainees, video images of vandalism, records of vehicles that were setting fire to the forests and testimonies from neighbors that the mayoress of Santa Juana has," he snapped.
new heat wave
According to the latest report from the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (Senapred) of the Chilean Ministry of the Interior, there are currently
260 active fires
throughout the country, of which 51 are in combat.
The regions most affected by the fire, a consequence of months of unprecedented drought and high temperatures, are Ñuble, Biobío and La Araucanía, areas of intense agricultural and forestry activity located 400, 500 and 700 kilometers south of the capital, respectively.
The Undersecretary of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, assured that "the activity of the fires during the course of the night was less than expected" because the temperatures have moderated slightly, but
he warned that as of Tuesday the south will face a new wave of heat
, with historical temperatures that can reach 40 degrees Celsius.
"On Friday, 76 new fires were generated, on Saturday the 16th and today, at this time, we have 8 new fires. We hope they do not continue to grow," Monsalve said.
Deadly fires in Chile and "epic" cold in the US: the causes of two phenomena thousands of kilometers away
Hurricanes, droughts and more disasters: climate change plunges Latin America into an "irreversible" crisis