SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday called for national unity in the face of the fires that are devastating several areas of the country after receiving criticism over the government’s efforts to deal with the emergency.
“The only thing I want to say is that in the face of a tragedy of this kind we all have to join together and work because what’s important here are the people and the country,” said Bachelet while making a tour of one of the affected areas.
After on Tuesday visiting the O’Higgins region, the president traveled on Wednesday to the Maule region, 268 kilometers (166 miles) from Santiago, where she reiterated that she was not ruling out arson, given the large number of fires.
Bachelet emphasized the government’s response to the forest fires, which have consumed more than 290,000 hectares (about 725,000 acres), emphasizing that “nothing of this dimension has been seen before ... in Chilean history, and of course everything humanly possible is being done and that’s going to continue until the fire is contained and controlled.”
The National Forestry Corporation (Conaf) reported that there have been a total of 85 fires reported recently, of which 36 are currently being battled, 47 are under control and two have been extinguished.
On Wednesday, the communities of Valparaiso, Casablanca, La Ligua, Hijuelas, Quilpue and Limache, in the region of Valparaiso, and Alhue, San Pedro, Pirque, Curacavi, Buin, Lampa, Paine and San Jose de Maipo in the Metropolitan region remain under a red alert.
Also under alert are Vichuquen, Hualańe, Licanten, Empedrado, Cauquenes and Constitucion in the Maule region, as well as the district of Melipilla, in the Metropolitan zone and the entire regions of O’Higgins and Biobio.