At least 13 people dead from Chile's raging wildfires

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By Euronews  with AP
A screenshot of wildfires raging in Chile.
A screenshot of wildfires raging in Chile.   -  Copyright  AFP

At least 13 people have been reported dead as of Friday night, the result of the more than 150 wildfires burning across Chile in the midst of a scorching heat wave.

Four of the deaths involved two separate vehicles in the Biobío region, around 560 kilometres south of the capital of Santiago.

“In one case they were burned because they were hit by the fire,” Interior Minister Carolina Tohá said. 

In the other case, she said, the victims died in a crash “probably trying to escape the fire”.

A fifth victim was a firefighter who was run over by a firetruck while fighting a blaze in the area.

Later in the afternoon, a helicopter that was helping combat the flames crashed in the Araucanía region, killing the pilot, a Bolivian national, and a mechanic, who was Chilean.

By night, the national agency responsible for emergencies raised the death toll to 13.

As of midday Friday, 151 wildfires were burning throughout Chile, including 65 declared under control. The fires had blazed through more than 14,000 hectares.

Most of the wildfires are in Biobío and neighbouring Ñuble, where the government has declared states of catastrophe. That allows greater coordination with the military and the suspension of certain constitutional rights.

The heatwave hitting Chile is set to continue with high temperatures and strong winds that could make the blazes even more challenging.

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.