Santiago de Chile, Feb 4 (EFE).- The Chilean Minister of the Interior, Carolina Toha, announced this Saturday that her country has requested help from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Spain to contain the wave of forest fires that are shaking the center of Chile and that have already claimed twenty fatalities and left more than 200 families homeless.
“A request for international support has been made through the Foreign Ministry. Contact has been made with various governments to reinforce efforts that had been made previously with the companies that provide the services,” he explained at a press conference.
“These requests include the search for ships to reinforce the fleet and brigades that can reform the work on the ground,” said the person in charge, who cited countries such as Spain, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil.
Minutes later, and through social networks, the President of the Republic, Gabriel Boric, thanked his Argentine counterpart, Alberto Fernández, for the quick response and the dispatch of brigade members and machinery.
«I have just talked with President Fernández to coordinate and thank the support of the Argentine Republic in fighting fires. In addition to brigade members, we will receive machinery,” Boric said on his Twitter account.
“We are managing support from different countries to face an emergency. We will not leave them alone!” added the president, who on Friday suspended his vacation in Chilean Patagonia to visit the areas affected by the fire and coordinate the emergency in Santiago.
Local diplomatic sources consulted by EFE confirmed that “other countries have also responded” favorably to the call for help.
Consequences of the fires
The serious wave of fires has already caused the death of at least 22 people and has destroyed more than 45,000 hectares, mainly in the Ñuble, Biobío and La Araucanía regions, areas of intense agricultural and forestry activity located 400, 500 and 700 kilometers from south of Santiago de Chile, respectively.
The Chilean Government decreed the State of Constitutional Exception of Catastrophe, which makes it possible to deliver aid to those affected more expeditiously and mobilize resources, among other measures.
According to the latest report from the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (Senapred) of the Ministry of the Interior, there are currently 251 active fires throughout the country, of which 80 are in combat.
Unreleased heat hello
The fires coincide with a long drought that has lasted for more than 13 years and with an unprecedented heat wave in the south, with temperatures that can reach 40 degrees Celsius in southern areas in the next few hours.
The Meteorological Directorate reported this Saturday that the heat wave will last until next Wednesday and will affect 7 of the 16 regions of the country.
The images are reminiscent of the wave of fires that hit southern Chile in 2017, the most serious to date and in which a dozen people died.