Lower temperatures on Tuesday brought some relief to central Chile as firefighters continued battling the remnants of wildfires that have left devastation in their wake, claiming the lives of at least 131 people in recent days. Families, meanwhile, grappled with the anguish of searching for missing relatives amid the rubble left behind by the infernos.
While only 35 victims have been identified so far, hundreds remain unaccounted for as the fires, which erupted late last week, spread rapidly across vast areas of central Chile.
In Valparaiso, a coastal city near the hardest-hit areas, the coroner’s office has set up tents and deployed support staff to offer psychological assistance and conduct DNA testing for individuals seeking their missing loved ones. However, due to the severe burns sustained by many recovered bodies and the extensive backlog of DNA samples, the identification process is proving to be lengthier than anticipated, compounding the agony for grieving families.
Carlos Orellana, 67, was among the first to arrive at the coroner’s office on Tuesday, desperately seeking information about his 14-year-old daughter, Anastasia Elizabeth, who vanished in the wake of the fires. Despite providing DNA samples from his two sons, Orellana, like many others, awaits news of his daughter’s fate, clinging to hope as he prepares to embark on another search through the charred debris in the hopes of finding her.
The wildfires have unleashed unprecedented devastation on central Chile, leaving communities shattered and families torn apart. As authorities and rescue teams continue their arduous efforts, the nation mourns the lives lost and grapples with the profound impacts of this catastrophic disaster.