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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.
  • Destroyed houses are seen after a forest fire burned several neighborhoods in the hills in Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.
  • Emergency responders watch as an out of control forest fire destroys homes in the city of Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.
  • A resident helps to extinguish flames as an out of control forest fire destroys homes in the city of Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.
  • Firefighters take a break from battling blazes after an out of control forest fire reached urban areas in Valparaiso, Chile, April 14, 2014.
  • A man cries next to the remains of his house after a forest fire destroyed it in Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.
  • Residents gather in a shelter after a forest fire burned several neighborhoods in the hills of Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.
  • Residents walk up the stairs after a forest fire burned several neighborhoods in the hills in Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.
  • A volunteer gives a donkey water at the location where a forest fire burned several neighborhoods in Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.
  • Firefighters try to put out a fire that burned several neighborhoods in the hills in Valparaiso, Chile, April 13, 2014.

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