Valparaíso fire displaces thousands, kills at least a dozen

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Monday, April 14, 2014

File:Gran incendio de Valparaíso de 2014.jpg

Photo of the blaze, Saturday night.
Image: Diego Grez.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)
Chilean president Michelle Bachelet at a news conference discussing the fire.
Image: Alex Ibáñez.

At least twelve people have been killed, and over ten thousand evacuated from the Chilean city of Valparaíso, following an ongoing fire sweeping across parts of the city.

The fire, which began on Saturday in woods on one of Valparaíso's hills, has razed at least five hundred houses. 1,200 fire personnel are tackling the blaze, whilst members of the Chilean Navy have been deployed to discourage looting. Many residences of the affected area have no water supply, and are joined by narrow winding streets; yesterday firefighters dropped water on the flames from seventeen aircraft.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet declared an emergency, with the army coordinating the evacuation. She called the blaze a "tremendous tragedy", noting, "In some places the fires have started again so we're working on this and people will continue to be protected".

One resident told the Reuters news agency, "[w]e fled from the La Cruz neighborhood, from an apartment I just got not too long ago. It’s all burned down, my sister’s house also burnt to the ground".

Shelters have been erected to house the thousands fleeing the inferno, and hospitals have been treating hundreds for smoke inhalation. Much of the city is without power.