Death toll from Chile’s wildfires reaches 131

A MAN peers from the tent where he camped for the night at the spot where his home stood before it was destroyed by a forest fire in the Villa Independencia neighborhood of Vina del Mar, Chile, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. / AP
A MAN peers from the tent where he camped for the night at the spot where his home stood before it was destroyed by a forest fire in the Villa Independencia neighborhood of Vina del Mar, Chile, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. / AP

VIÑA DEL MAR, Chile — The death toll from wildfires that ravaged central Chile for several days increased to 131 on Tuesday, and more than 300 people were still missing as the blazes appeared to be burning themselves out.

The fires in Valparaiso are said to be Chile’s deadliest disaster since an earthquake in 2010. Officials have suggested that some could have been intentionally set.

President Gabriel Boric during a visit to the region announced that furniture used for the 2023 Pan American Games will be donated to victims. He said the government also will forgive the water bills for 9,200 affected homes.

The fires began Friday, Feb. 2 on the mountainous eastern edge of Viña del Mar, a beach resort known for a festival that attracts the best in Latin music. Two other towns, Quilpé and Villa Alemana, also were hit hard as the fires spread quickly in dry weather and strong winds.

The Viña del Mar Festival canceled its opening gala as a sign of mourning. Many participating singers including Alejandro Sanz, Pablo Alborán and Maná sent messages of solidarity and announced donations.

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