The death toll from the forest fires in Chile rose to 99, President Gabriel Boric reported on Sunday, adding that the numbers will grow “significantly.” in the next few hours while firefighters, soldiers and brigade members battled to put out several outbreaks in the center and south of the country.
Most of the fire spread in the Valparaíso coastal region, Home to almost a million inhabitants, headquarters of Congress and one of the country’s main ports.
“We are together, all of us, fighting the emergency. The priority is to save lives,” Boric said in a message to the nation, where he added that he made the decision to maintain the curfew and reinforce the presence of the military in the most affected areas.
In addition to Valparaíso, The fire was active in the central regions of O’Higgins, Maule and Ñuble and the southern La Araucanía.
“At this moment, I can sadly confirm the official number of 64 deaths. We know that this number is going to grow, it is going to grow significantly (…) we are facing a tragedy of very large magnitudes,” added Boric.
Authorities have said the tragedy is the worst since a powerful 2010 earthquake that left half a thousand dead.
Boric reported that he declared national mourning for two days starting Monday “because all of Chile suffers and mourns our dead.”
The fire also forced the shutdown of the Aconcagua refinery, the second largest in the country, located about 15 kilometers north of the coastal city Viña del Mar, heavily affected by the fires.