Death toll hits 122 in central Chile forest fires


SANTIAGO, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Raging forest fires in central Chile's Valparaiso region have claimed at least 122 lives, the Chilean government said Monday.

According to the South American country's forensics agency, the Legal Medical Service, only 32 of the fatal victims have been identified, while teams of experts have performed 40 autopsies.

Fires sparked Friday in different locations have burned more than 11,000 hectares in Valparaiso, and between 3,000 and 6,000 homes have suffered some degree of damage.

The causes of the fires are still under investigation amid an ongoing heat wave hitting Chile this summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Authorities declared a state of emergency to deploy military troops to help control the fires and channel extra resources to the region.

This is the worst tragedy hitting Chile since a powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami claimed 525 lives and left 23 missing in 2010, according to official figures.

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