"This is one of the largest support contingents in fighting the fires that we are suffering in the south", said Antonia Urrejola, at the reception for elements of the Portuguese security and civil protection forces, in which the Portuguese ambassador in Chile also participated.
The Joint Operational Force (FOCON) is made up of 144 operatives from the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC), the Special Civil Protection Force (FEPC) of ANEPC, the National Republican Guard, the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forestry, fire brigades in the region of Lisbon and Tagus Valley and the National Institute of Medical Emergencies (INEM).
La Canciller @UrrejolaRREE, junto al Embajador de Portugal en Chile, Carlos Amaro, recibe a una Fuerza Operacional Conjunta de ese país, compuesta por 144 brigadistas y especialistas, que ayudará a combatir los #IncendiosForestales en la zona centro sur de Chile. pic.twitter.com/BfRE8cdvaV— Cancillería Chile (@Minrel_Chile) February 12, 2023
António Urrejola recalled that "the history of collaboration with Portugal" in the past and that Chile also recently sent help to combat forest fires in Portugal.
"We are very grateful to Portugal, its people, its Government and, above all, to each of the people who, starting this afternoon, will travel" to the areas affected by the fires, said the Chilean official.
The Portuguese ambassador to Chile, Carlos de Sousa Amaro, said that "this is the largest group" that the country has sent abroad for this type of mission, constituting "a proof of solidarity between the two countries".
With the arrival of the Portuguese contingent, its number rises to more than 750 military personnel, firefighters, and specialists from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Venezuela involved in fighting forest fires.
The wave of fires in the center-south of the country has already caused 24 deaths, consumed more than 417,000 hectares, and destroyed 1,478 homes.
So far, 31 people have been arrested for their alleged role in causing the fires.