IOM Responds to Forest Fires Emergency in Chile

Chile - IOM has deployed emergency staff in response to forest fires that have been affecting the central zone of Chile since mid-January, as part of the UN Evaluation and Disaster Coordination (UNDAC) team.

The most affected regions are Maule, Bío Bío, O’Higgins, Metropolitana, Araucanía and Valparaiso. As of 8 February, the fires had resulted in at least 11 deaths, affected 7,157 individuals, destroyed 1,644 houses and left about 600,000 hectares of land burnt.

In Maule, the most affected region, there are currently 441 people in four emergency shelters.

The UNDAC team, activated following a request from the government to the UN Country Team, has been working to assess the level of damage and needs in Maule and Bío Bío.

The team is currently preparing an assessment which will be delivered by the UN Resident Coordinator, Silvia Rucks, to Ricardo Toro, Director of the National Emergency Office of the Interior Ministry.

IOM Chile Emergency Specialist Jorge Sagastume said that the consequences of the disaster will have a significant impact on the environment, severely affecting the living conditions of the inhabitants. “Many families were still recovering from the earthquake of 2010 and now they have to face this new catastrophe,” he noted.

According to information provided by the National Forestry Corporation, of the 44 forest fires that had been active nationally, 38 are under control, 3 are still burning and 3 have been extinguished.

A state of emergency is still active in the provinces of Colchagua and Cardenal Caro, O’Higgins and in the regions of El Maule, Bío Bío and La Araucanía.

For further information, please contact Fernando Thumm at IOM Chile. Tel. +56 02 9633710, Email: