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Fire at Torres del Paine Park
Photo: AFP
Chile senator demands compensation 'if Israeli tourist started fire'
Alejandro Navarro notes Czech government paid Chile nearly $200,000 after one of its citizens caused fire similar to one Rotem Singer is accused of causing. 'I'm not anti-Semitic,' he stresses

More than 700 firefighters were still working Monday to contain the massive wildfire that erupted at Chile's Torres del Paine National Park five days ago. 

 

President Sebastian Pinera said that firefighters managed to contain four out of six blazes and announced that parts of the park would reopen on Wednesday to minimize disruption to tourism and local businesses.

 

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Israeli national Rotem Singer is accused of accidentally causing the fire by lighting toilet paper. Singer has denied the allegation.

 

Singer in custody (Photo: AP)
Singer in custody (Photo: AP)

 

President Pinera said almost 130 sq km (32,000 acres) had been burned in the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. He proposed increasing the penalties for anyone who causes forest fires, be it intentionally or negligently.

 

Alejandro Navarro, head of the Chilean Senate's Environment Committee, said "when someone commits a crime in a foreign country against a heritage site, his country is morally and legally obligated to compensate for the heavy damage."

 

He noted that in 2005, when a Czech tourist caused a fire of a similar scale in the Torres del Paine National Park, the Czech government paid Chile 144,400 euros (about $190,000) in compensation and assisted in the rehabilitation efforts.

 

"Just like the Czech Republic did in 2005, Israel will also have to respond if its citizen Rotem Singer is convicted of causing the fire," the senator said.

 

Navarro, who has made pro-Palestinian statements in the past, clarified that his demand does not stem from anti-Semitism.

 

The Chilean government has not made an official request for compensation.

 

The Chilean press published a statement by the Israeli embassy in Santiago according to which it was

not intervening in the legal proceedings against Singer (23). It said the traveler's family has already hired an attorney to represent him. The embassy further stated that Israel would help in the rehabilitation efforts once the blaze is contained.

 

 

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