‘Death toll in Chile forest fire rises to 23’

Santiago: At least 23 people have died in hundreds of forest fires whipped up amid a blistering heat wave in south central Chile, a senior government official said Saturday night.
“We want to mourn the passing of 23 persons,” said Deputy Interior Minister Manuel Monsalve, adding that 979 people have been injured in the fires.
Monsalve said 232 wildfires were still active on Saturday, including 16 that began earlier in the day.The government of President Gabriel Boric extended a state of disaster to include the southern region of Araucania. The regions of Nuble and Biobio were already under a disaster designation.
The move allows Boric to mobilize the military to help battle the fires as the death toll continued to rise.
Temperatures soared to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), hindering efforts to contain the fires, many of which raged out of control.
Boric, who suspended a holiday to rush to the city of Concepcion, 510 kilometers (320 miles) south of the capital, Santiago, tweeted that he would keep working “to confront the forest fires and to help families.”
Boric said Argentina had offered to send firefighters and equipment.
Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and Spain have also offered help, Interior Minister Carolina Toha said.
“We are becoming one of the (nations) most vulnerable to fires, fundamentally due to the evolution of climate change,” Toha said.–Agencies