In the agricultural area surrounded by timber forests devastated by fire, scenes of plots reduced to ashes, dead animals and country people who suddenly lost everything are repeated.
“It was hell. I can’t understand how our houses (…) have burned down. It was a miracle that some of them escaped their house (from the flames), but the fire surrounded them,” he told AFP. María Inés Hernández (55), social leader of the Diñico sector, in the municipality of Santa Juana, in the Biobío region.
“And now we are afraid that the fire will return (…). Imagine, without water, where are we going to take refuge? Where? How?” she asked anguished.
President Gabriel Boric attended the wake of a firefighter in the town of Coronel.
“All of Chile cries with you. I am here to tell you that you are not alone, that Yesenia’s family (Muñoz, the deceased firefighter) will not be alone,” said the president.
“We face the emergency with unity,” said President Boric on his Twitter account.
The president traveled again on Sunday to the city of Concepción, 510 km south of Santiago, and visited affected areas.
International aid began to take shape with the departure on Sunday from Spain of a plane and a contingent of 50 people including specialists, soldiers and drone pilots.
“We have just sent a plane to Chile with a contingent of the Military Emergency Unit to collaborate in the extinction and control of the fires that are plaguing the country. All our support for the Chilean people,” tweeted the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez .
The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, also announced the sending of a plane with specialists to Chile. “We will send a plane to Chile with material and people who are experts in putting out forest fires. The climate crisis burns Chile,” Petro wrote on Twitter.
The Chilean Foreign Ministry maintained that coordination is also being carried out with Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, the United States and Mexico.
The serious situation led the government to declare a constitutional state of catastrophe in the regions of Ñuble, Biobío and La Araucanía, which makes it possible to have additional resources to control the emergency, restrict the free movement of people and use the military forces to contain the disaster.
At the beginning of 2017, a chain of fires that devastated some 460,000 hectares left 11 dead, nearly 6,000 injured, and more than 1,500 houses burned.
The outbreaks had also started then in agricultural areas and forests, and advanced to populated areas.