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Chile's president declares state of emergency after devastating forest fire


Chile

Chile's president declares state of emergency after devastating forest fire

The smoldering remains of scores of homes are all that is left of parts of the Chilean port city of Valparaiso in the wake of Saturday night’s devastating forest fire.

One regional official described it as the “worst catastrophe” he had had ever seen.

As residents picked over their gutted homes, firefighters were still struggling to put out a few still active points of the blaze.

President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency and sent the army to maintain order.

Around 10,000 people had to be evacuated as the fire which was pushed by strong Pacific coastal winds ripped through the city killing at least 11.

Such was the pace of the fire locals had only minutes to grab what they could before running to safety.

At the height of the fire some 1200 firefighters battled with the blaze using planes helicopters to drop water on the flames.

Hours later large parts of Valparaiso are still without electricity and residents are said to be suffering from smoke inhalation.

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