Fire in Chile Immigrant Neighborhood Kills 14, Including Eight Children

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SANTIAGO (Reuters) -A fire in an informal immigrant neighborhood in the southern Chilean city of Coronel left 14 dead, most of them children, on Monday night, according to local authorities.

Hugo Cuevas, the city’s chief prosecutor, said the victims appear to be undocumented Venezuelan immigrants.

“They just arrived, they’ve been here in Coronel for just a short time, it couldn’t be more than a month,” said one neighbor, who did not give his name.

Residents of the area, a working-class neighborhood lined with dirt roads and tin-roofed houses, gathered on Tuesday to watch as investigators poured in and out of the home where the fire broke out.

“One of those who died yesterday, he worked with us,” said another resident, who did not give her name. “We left work, they came home and five minutes later everyone comes running out because the house caught on fire.”

Officials are still confirming the victims’ identities and determining the cause of the incident. Preliminary reports indicated the wooden house was quickly engulfed after a fire from a handmade stove spread.

During an event about the country’s new proposed constitution in Santiago, Chilean President Gabriel Boric lamented the fire, saying “it would be good to ask ourselves, in our own speeches and in our actions, how we treat those people who died yesterday.”

An official government delegation will travel to Coronel to investigate and arrange necessary aid, Interior Minister Carolina Toha said on social media network X.

(Report by Natalia Ramos and Fabian Cambero; Writing by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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