VIÑA DEL MAR, Chile — More than 300 people were still missing on Tuesday as wildfires that ravaged central Chile for several days and killed 123 people appeared to be burning themselves out.
Authorities were assessing the damage after the fires in Valparaiso, said to be Chile’s deadliest disaster since an earthquake in 2010. Officials have suggested that some could have been intentionally set.
President Gabriel Boric, who visited the region on Tuesday, has said at least 3,000 homes burned as the fires spread quickly in dry weather and strong winds.
The fires began Friday on the mountainous eastern edge of Viña del Mar, a beach resort known for a festival that attracts the best in Latin music. Two other towns, Quilpé and Villa Alemana, also were hit hard.
The Viña del Mar Festival canceled its opening gala as a sign of mourning. Many of the participating singers including Alejandro Sanz, Pablo Alborán and Maná sent messages of solidarity and announced donations.
Chile’s Forensic Medical Service has said many bodies recovered from the fires were in bad condition and difficult to identify, but forensic workers would take samples of genetic material from people reporting missing relatives.
“My parents’ and my sisters’ house burned, and my neighbors — the people who knew me when I was little — died,” said Gabriel Leiva, 46, going through debris in Viña del Mar. He said his neighbors were “family that is not of blood but of the heart.”