New Delhi, Feb 5: Chile is grappling with catastrophic wildfires that have claimed the lives of at least 112 people, with authorities warning that the death toll is expected to climb. The Chilean National Disaster Prevention and Response Service revealed the alarming toll, as news agency images and footage vividly portrayed the extensive devastation wreaked across numerous communities.
The Pictures depicted a harrowing trail of destruction, showcasing burnt-out vehicles and houses reduced to ashes. The infernos are sweeping through Chile against the backdrop of a scorching summer heatwave, with the capital.
News agencies report 161 active fires are raging across the country, according to the Chilean National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (SENAPRED). Director Álvaro Hormazábal informed CNN that firefighters have gained control over 102 fires but continue to battle 40 others, while 19 wildfires are currently under observation.
In response to the crisis, President Gabriel Boric declared a state of emergency, particularly affecting coastal cities such as Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, which are shrouded in smoke. Residents in central regions are being forced to evacuate their homes. Boric declared Monday and Tuesday as days of national mourning for the victims of the devastating fires.
The ongoing human-induced climate crisis, exacerbated by heatwaves and droughts, intensifies the frequency and severity of wildfires globally. The current El Niño phenomenon is further elevating temperatures. Experts warn that the situation will worsen, with a UN report projecting a potential 14% increase in extreme wildfire events by 2030 and a staggering 30% rise by 2050. Wildfires, with their devastating consequences, serve as a poignant reminder of the profound impact of the climate crisis on lives and economies worldwide.