As many as 15,000 people have been left homeless by the fire that burned for more than a week in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso, killing 15 and destroying some 3,000 homes, the official coordinating the response to the disaster said Monday.
“We’re talking about from 12,000 to 15,000 people made homeless,” Andres Silva said in an interview on Radio Cooperativa, adding that by Wednesday there ought to be a more detailed registration of the impact on the hills of the Pacific coast city, where housing suffered the worst damage in Valparaiso’s history.
Silva, who was named by President Michelle Bachelet to coordinate aid and reconstruction for Chile’s main port, said that information is still being gathered and exchanged, since there are more than 1,800 plots of land on which residences had been built without municipal permits, each one of which housed up to three families.
“The registration is determining whether any homes can be restored, though it looks like that percentage will be very low, because what we see here is total destruction,” Silva said.
The government has allocated more than 18 billion pesos ($32.3 million) to deal with the emergency, which will include clearing away rubble, providing subsidies for rentals and installing temporary housing.
The authorities have decided not to start permanent reconstruction until a plan is worked out that defines which areas are truly secure, since many of the houses wiped out by the fire had been built in ravines that should not be considered habitable.
“We have been categorical: this plan will be carried out quickly but at the same time will be secure. There are areas where building will not be possible,” Silva said.