Canada to send firefighters, equipment to help battle Chilean wildfires

By John Marchesan

Canada is sending manpower and equipment to Chile as the South American country battles devastating wildfires.

In a statement posted on X on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Chile for its “invaluable support” last year when Canada battled wildfires, adding that it would return the favour in the form of “firefighting experts and wildland firefighting equipment.”

Exact numbers of people and equipment or where they may be deployed from were not immediately available.

On Feb. 6, Chilean officials reported the death toll from wildfires that ravaged central Chile for several days had reached 131, and more than 300 people were still missing.

The fires in Valparaiso are said to be Chile’s deadliest disaster since an earthquake in 2010. Officials have suggested that some could have been intentionally set.

Chile’s Forensic Medical Service has said many bodies recovered from the fires were in bad condition and difficult to identify, but forensic workers would take samples of genetic material from people reporting missing relatives.

The fires began Feb. 2 on the mountainous eastern edge of Viña del Mar, a beach resort known for a festival that attracts the best in Latin music. Two other towns, Quilpé and Villa Alemana, also were hit hard as the fires spread quickly in dry weather and strong winds.

Files from The Associated Press were used in this report

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