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Sunday, 13 April 2014 | MYT 9:35 PM

Eight dead in Valparaiso blaze, 500 houses destroyed

VALPARAISO, Chile (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed and 500 houses destroyed over the weekend by a fire that ripped through parts of Chilean port city Valparaiso, causing the evacuation of thousands of residents as authorities battled the blaze.

Pushed by strong Pacific coast winds, the fire killed three men and one woman as it rampaged over 300 hectares (741 acres) of hilly residential neighbourhoods including La Cruz and Las Canas, local authorities said.

The country's Congress, which resides in Valparaiso, and the city's historic quarter, with its late 19th century architecture, were spared by the blaze.

President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency and sent the army in to maintain order while ambulance crews treated people for smoke inhalation and other injuries.

""The fire is still not completely extinguished," said local government official Ricardo Bravo.

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Sandra Maler)


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