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Forest fire kills five firefighters in Chile

(Xinhua)

10:00, January 06, 2012

SANTIAGO, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Five firefighters died Thursday and three others remained missing during a forest fire fighting in Cautin province in southern Chile, officials said.

Governor of Cautin province Miguel Mellado said when 10 firefighters from the logging company Minico were fighting a bushfire in the mountainside forest, the wind suddenly changed direction, and the fire eventually left five people dead.

Three others were still missing, and the remaining two had been evacuated by helicopter after sustaining injuries, the governor said.

"The fire suddenly trapped them due to the change of winds, they drew closer together, one against another, and saw the fire pass above them. One of them who managed to escape has burns on his hands and face," Mellado told Canal 13 TV.

Meanwhile, Fredy Rivas, regional director of the National Emergency Office, said the company had confirmed the five deaths.

Chilean officials said Wednesday that about 24,800 hectares of forest had been destroyed by a series of blazes in the Biobio region, where some 160 homes had been destroyed and 600 people displaced.

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