Torres del Paine National Park
Photo: AFP
Rotem Singer
Photo: AP

Chile battles multiple wildfires; arson suspected

Firefighters in Chile battle several fires, over 32,000 acres lost; investigators believe arsonists involved. Developments may impact Israeli tourist's case

Firefighters in Chile are still battling 48 wildfires that have burned over 32,000 acres of forest, destroyed more than 100 homes and have driven away thousands of tourists while causing millions of dollars in losses.


Chile's President Sebastian Pinera declared the Magallanes Region, where the Torres del Paine National Park is, as the disaster area.


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The fires are now considered to be the work of arsonists. "This is very strange and naturally, the government is very concerned," Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol told reporters on Monday. 


President Pinera added that the country faces "a situation of extreme vulnerability," adding that he will demand toughening the sentences given for arson.


Battling multiple wildfires (Photo: Reuters)  


It is unclear at this time how these recent developments will affect the case against Israeli national Rotem Singer, a tourist who was charge with negligently causing the fire. Singer has denied the allegation.


Mayol said that the extreme weather conditions in the park were, in part, responsible for the raging flame. He stressed that authorities were pursuing several leads, including the possible involvement of Mapuche Indians – Chile's largest indigenous minority – who demand the return of their ancestral lands.


News agencies contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 01.03.12, 07:20
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