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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Chile heatwave exacerbates forest fires

Chile is in the grips of the climate crisis and is currently facing a 14-year drought 

On December 16, people in Chile’s capital city of Santiago woke up to a cloud of smoke because of forest fires that spread across the central and southern regions of the country. A heatwave that hit Chile last week intensified forest fires which burned more than 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres) in the country.

The forest fires led to dozens of evacuations with the capital city of Santiago facing a public health threat due to a cloud of smoke. Firefighters were tackling over 20 fires in the country’s central and southern regions.

Around 40 homes have been evacuated in the Valparaiso region and a dozen homes have been destroyed. The blaze devastated more than 1,700 hectares in the rural town of Curacavi which led to repercussions in Santiago.

Santiago recorded 36.7 degrees Celsius (98.06°F) December 16, the third-highest temperature the city has seen in 111 years. Over a 100 animals also had to be removed from the area.

The heat was registered in the regions of Valparaíso, Metropolitana, O’Higgins and Maule, in the central zone of the country. Air operations were not affected by the smoke but people with bronchial problems were advised to keep their doors and windows closed.

Coarser particles are being monitored to see how they might affect public health.

Chile is in the grips of the climate crisis and is currently facing a 14-year drought that has prompted talk of water rationing in the Santiago Metropolitan Region, home to about 40 per cent of the nation’s 19 million people.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says that the dry spell is a combination of natural and anthropogenic factors.

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