Chile wildfires kill scores with hundreds still missing

STORY: Wildfires sweeping through central Chile have killed scores of people and hundreds are still missing in what’s become the country’s worst national disaster in over a decade.

Wildfires that began several days ago are menacing the outer edges of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

The two coastal cities are popular with tourists and combined have over a million residents.

Drone footage filmed by Reuters in Vina del Mar area showed entire neighborhoods scorched.

Pedro Quezada was caught in the blaze and ended up losing his home.

“The wind was terrible, the heat scorching. There was no respite. People dispersed everywhere.”

Chilean authorities have introduced a 9 p.m. curfew in the hardest-hit areas and sent in the military to help firefighters stem the spread of fires.

Officials say around a thousand homes have been damaged, with more that 90 fires still raging across Chile.

Sergio and Maria returned to what remained of their home on Sunday to salvage what they could.

Along with precious family items, Sergio’s workshop went up in flames.

The couple, now in their 60s, worry about starting over from scratch.

“Our hands are tied. This is my workshop, we stay here. All the sacrifice, all in a lifetime.”

President Gabriel Boric on Sunday announced two days of national mourning and said the country should brace for more bad news.

He also gave an update on the response effort.

“We have said it, and we repeat it – today’s priority is to save lives as there are still active fires; assist the injured people, and control the active fires that are now being fought.”

Although wildfires are not uncommon during Chile’s summers, this recent string has been more deadly than usual– the worst disaster since a 2010 earthquake in which around 500 people died.

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