SANTIAGO: The death toll in widespread forest fires in south-central Chile has increased to 22, according to government officials.
Interior Minister Carolina Toha confirmed during a news conference on Saturday that 22 people are dead, reported CNN. “There are 1,429 people in shelters, 554 injured and 16 suffering severe burns who are in serious condition,” she added.
Around 14,000 hectares of land were torched as dozens of wildfires raged in Chile amid the summer heatwave in the country.
Twenty-eight of the hundreds of fires in Chile in recent days have burned the amount of forest and woodland the country typically loses over the course of a year, Toha said.
The minister also described record-high temperatures in several of the affected regions of Chile, reported CNN.
“The thermometer has reached levels that we’ve never seen until now,” said Toha.
On Saturday, President Gabriel Boric announced via Twitter that neighboring Argentina will send firefighters and machinery to combat the fires engulfing Chile’s south-central area, according to CNN Chile.
Boric said he had spoken to his Argentinian counterpart, Alberto Fernandez, to “coordinate and thank Argentina in the fight against the fires. Besides firefighters, we will receive machinery.”
Boric added that he will seek further help fighting the fires from other countries, reported CNN.
“We are arranging support from various countries to face the emergency. We will not leave them alone,” he said tweeted.
Partly due to climate change, wildfires have grown in scope, intensity, and frequency as rising temperatures and drought heighten fire conditions around the world, resulting in explosive blazes in places like Chile, Algeria, France, Spain, and the western United States.
In late December, a forest fire near the coastal resort town of Vinas Del Mar in Chile killed at least one person and destroyed more than 100 homes. (ANI)