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World News

Bishop speaks of pain as Chile wildfires rage on

At least eleven deaths have been blamed on the fires, which prompted President Michelle Bachelet to declare a state of emergency last week.

In a message to Christians in the UK, Bishop Pedro Correa Montecinos said: "I am sure you are aware of the difficult situation we are experiencing in Chile due to the fires that have affected different regions in our country.

"We are in the midst of a very critical emergency. What started off as forest fires soon expanded, reaching houses, and affecting hundreds of families. This is a very painful situation."

Nearly 904,000 acres of woodland have been destroyed by the wildfires since 15th January, according to the national forestry agency.

Meanwhile, planes from Russia, Brazil and the United States have been releasing thousands of gallons of water over the area, in a bid to help firefighters and residents tackle quick-spreading flames.

A prayer released by The Methodist Church in Britain said: "We remember with concern all those who have been affected by the fires. We mourn over the damage to the fauna and flora, and over the loss of human life.

"We give thanks for the dedication and solidarity of firefighters from Chile and surrounding countries who are battling to bring the fires under control.

"Strengthen their hands Lord, and be with the Methodist Church in Chile as it seeks to do what it can to help alleviate the suffering."

Experts from more than a dozen countries have joined more than 20,000 people in trying to tackle the wildfires.

Pope Francis last week offered his condolences and said he was praying for those affected by the disaster, which is thought to be the worst damage to woodland in Chile's history.

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