SANTIAGO, Chile: The death toll from the worst wildfires in the country’s history reached 11, including five firefighters, authorities said Sunday.
A state of emergency remains in effect as the fires continue to rage in 10 central and southern regions. The fires have burned about 928,000 acres and continue to spread after more than a week.
The National Emergency Office (ONEMI) said of 127 active fires, 50 are now under control and 14 are completely extinguished. Around 7,000 personnel have been deployed to fight the fires, including military officials, wild land firefighters, volunteer firefighters, municipal workers and private companies. The energy ministry said 5,000 residents are experiencing electrical problems in three regions, including O´Higgins, Maule and Bio Bio, in the south. But the top priority for the government is to battle fires near populated areas, according to Minister of Public Works Alberto Undurraga.
“In these places our priority is to save lives, save homes, and in the same way, the various basic services of water, electricity and telecommunications”, he said during a press conference Saturday.
President Michelle Bachelet sent her condolences to the families of the deceased in a series of messages on Twitter. As Bachelet works to get a handle on the fires, a survey was released Sunday that showed her facing the lowest approval ratings of her presidency at 18 percent.
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