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At Least 12 Killed in Chile Fire

  • VOA News

Chilean officials say a huge fire has killed at least 12 people and destroyed at least 2,000 homes in the port city of Valparaiso, located about 120 kilometers northwest of the capital of Santiago.

Authorities on Sunday had announced the death toll at 16, but later revised the number downward. More than 10,000 people have been evacuated, including more than 200 female inmates at a prison.

The fire began Saturday in a forested area above ramshackle housing on one of the city's many hilltops.

Firefighters are struggling to bring the blaze under control, as Pacific coast winds fan the flames. Ground crews were assisted by dozens of aircraft dropping water on scores of hotspots.

President Michele Bachelet has declared a state of emergency, placing armed forces on the city's streets to maintain order and prevent looting. Authorities have set up shelters.

Valparaiso's densely populated hillsides filled with colorful homes have earned the city of about 250,000 residents designation as a UNESCO world heritage site.
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