The Minister of the Interior of Chile, Carolina Tohá, revealed this Saturday night that there are 51 deaths due to the forest fires that have spread through populated areas of the Valparaíso Region, while the number of missing persons exceeds 370.
“The situation in Valparaíso is the most delicate at this time: it has undoubtedly been the fire that has generated the most human losses, and it will probably be the emergency situation, after the 2010 earthquake, that has generated the most victims in Chile in recently,” the minister said after the last Disaster and Management Committee in statements collected by Radio Cooperativa.
He explained that since the balance provided by the President of the country, Gabriel Boric, when the death toll was at 46, there have been “five more deceased people whose bodies were collected from public roads, but we have a lot of background information and preliminary information and we still unofficial fact that makes us see that we will reach figures that may be much higher than those we currently know.
372 reports of missing persons
Meanwhile, Macarena Ripamontil, mayor of Viña del Mar, one of the communes most affected by the fires, has indicated that 372 reports of missing people have been received. “There are many people who died. There are many people who lost everything and it is dramatic. At this moment there are no political colors. There are no personal agendas. There simply has to be genuine affection for this to turn out well from all sides and make ourselves available to work for this emergency. I ask you please. There is a lot of pain in Viña del Mar right now,” he declared.
The Chilean president traveled this Sunday to the Valparaíso region “to be with local authorities, victims of the tragedy and above all to see ‘in situ’ where we must tighten the screws to provide more and better support in this difficult moment.”
Boric explained that the priorities are first of all to save lives; second, put out active fires; thirdly, recover bodies of deceased people; fourth, channel urgent support to victims in shelters; fifth, guarantee public order with the Carabineros and Armed Forces, and sixth and last, collect background information to investigate the origin of the fires. “We will stand up,” Boric stressed in a message published on the social network X.
Tohá has also highlighted that “the capabilities of the Legal Medical Service have been reinforced in these hours, but that will have to be increased tomorrow, because there will probably be more demand for work.” “The PDI is going to support this with the installation of 11 investigative teams, which are in charge of removing the bodies and the first investigative procedures carried out in these places,” he said.
He has also pointed out that at the moment they do not have a complete survey of victims or damaged homes or infrastructure, but “roughly, we know that there are 16 affected villas, 30 percent of them are Serviu condominiums, 70 percent “The rest are subdivisions – many of them irregular – and camps. In terms of housing, we don’t have numbers but we know there are thousands.”
There are “serious antecedents” of intentionality
As other authorities are pointing out, Tohá has stated that “there is serious evidence that the origin of the most serious of these fires, which is that of Las Tablas, could have been intentional. There are always rumors of this type, but in this opportunity are serious backgrounds of trustworthy people.
“This is a cause for great concern, because a fire that causes this devastation and this loss of human life, intentionally caused by other people, is a social alarm of the greatest severity,” he warned.
For this reason, he has reported that the National Defense Headquarters has ordered a ban on the transport of fuel in drums: “We have indication – as I said – of intentionality in several of these fires, and we want to make any other attempt to activate new ones as difficult as possible. spotlights”.
“Secondly, any activity that involves handling fire is restricted, whether it is the use of machinery that generates heat or sparks, or the development of bonfires in risk areas or where the fire is currently occurring,” he added.