Latin America & Caribbean

Chile's Sebastian Pinera visits wildfire victims

Residents of Valparaiso going through debris after the fire
Image caption President Sebastian Pinera promised a complete plan to rebuild the area and to rehouse the victims

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has been visiting the city of Valparaiso following one of the most destructive forest fires in decades.

After inspecting shelters, Mr Pinera promised to present by Wednesday a complete plan to rebuild the area and rehouse the victims.

The blaze affected around 1,200 people and destroyed more than 100 homes.

There have been suggestions that the fire could have been started intentionally or by negligence.

"We will use all the resources available to the state to help them not only to rebuild their houses, but in many cases to rebuild their lives," Mr Pinera told reporters.

Authorities estimate it could take up to 18 months to rebuild the area.

The fire broke out on Thursday afternoon, quickly spreading to a number of houses.

Dry and hot weather coupled with high, unpredictable winds are said to have contributed to the fire's spread.

There were unconfirmed reports of looting after residents left their homes to escape the fire.

Valparaiso is considered prone to fires due to its dry summer climate and its location, surrounded by forests.

It is believed to be home to the first fire department in the country.

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