Officials are warning of major destruction and loss of life after fast-moving fires swept through central Chile’s coastal hills.
Days after devastating wildfires swept through Chile’s Pacific Coast, officials said on Sunday that at least 64 people had been killed and hundreds remained missing and warned that the number of dead could rise exponentially.
“That number is going to go up, we know it’s going to go up significantly,” President Gabriel Boric said on Sunday, describing the fires as the worst disaster in the country since a devastating earthquake in 2010 left more than 400 people dead and displaced 1.5 million.
Thousands of homes were destroyed in the fires, which swept through the coastal hills toward the resort of Viña del Mar starting Friday, propelled by high winds.
The fires came as many were vacationing in Viña del Mar in the country’s Valparaíso region, and roared through hillside settlements where many older residents were not able to escape.
Omar Castro Vázquez, whose home was destroyed in the settlement of El Olivar, said a neighbor in is 80s had died in the fire.
“It was more like a nuclear bomb than a fire,” said Mr. Castro, 72. “There’s nothing left.”
The destruction in Valparaíso comes as dozens of fires are burning across central and southern Chile, amid what officials have said are higher-than-normal temperatures for this time of year.