At least 24 killed as wildfires rage across Chile

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Firefighters battled dozens of raging wildfires in Chile over the weekend in a bid to gain control of one of the country’s worst natural disasters in years as the death toll rose to at least 24 with nearly 1,000 more injured, Reuters reported.

International arrived on Sunday including planes and expert firefighting teams, as the most intense wildfires torched forests and farmland clustered around three regions near the middle of the South American country’s Pacific coastline. Authorities said they were facilitating the arrival of assistance from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal and Venezuela.

The fires have so far consumed around 270,000 hectares, officials said on Sunday. A heat wave in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer complicated efforts to extinguish the flames.

There were 260 fires active across the region, interior ministry officials said on Sunday, with 28 of them considered especially dangerous.

Thirteen of those who have died come from Biobio, home to extensive forests as well as farms that grow grapes and other fruit for export. Nearly 1,500 people fled to area shelters. At least 26 of the 970 injured are listed in grave condition at local hospitals.

President Gabriel Boric issued emergency declarations for the largely rural southern regions of Biobio, Nuble and Araucania in an effort to speed relief, and stressed that his government would provide all necessary resources, while he also sought to inspire solidarity in the face of the deadly wildfires.

“I’ve seen the resiliency of our people, and it’s exactly that spirit that has to guide us during this difficult time,” he said. “All together, we’ll come out of this ahead.”

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