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Hundreds of homes have been destroyed so far, and thousands evacuated.

Massive fire kills 11, threatens Chilean metropolis

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Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, April 13, 2014, 1:29 PM -

Almost a dozen people have been killed, and hundreds of homes have been destroyed, as a massive fire rages in the Chilean city of Valparaiso.

The fire started Saturday afternoon in one of the forested hills that house several of the city's neighbourhoods, and was blown out of control by strong winds.

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from the city, which has a population of more than 250,000, but the measure came too late for the 11 people who have been confirmed dead so far.

Around 500 structures have been destroyed, and large parts of the city are without power.

Although Santiago is the nation's capital, Valparaiso is the seat of the Chilean congress. President Michelle Bachelet declared the city a disaster zone and deployed troops to keep order and help in the fire suppression efforts.

It is the worst fire to strike the city since 1953, when a similar blaze killed 50 people and burned almost all homes on several of the surrounding hills.

This is the country's second major bout with natural disaster.

After several smaller earthquakes, a massive Magnitude 8.2 tremor rocked the country's north on April 1, killing six people and causing moderate damage.

RELATED: Read about 10 earthquakes that changed history.

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