Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:0AM
A view of a forest fire in Pumanque, 140 kilometers south of the Chilean capital of Santiago, on January 21, 2017 (photo by AFP)
A view of a forest fire in Pumanque, 140 kilometers south of the Chilean capital of Santiago, on January 21, 2017 (photo by AFP)

Chilean authorities have declared a state of catastrophe as wildfires rage through hundreds of square kilometers in the central parts of the western Latin American country.

The announcement was made on Saturday after forest fires set more than 450 square kilometers ablaze in the central O’Higgins region, an area roughly the size of the Austrian capital, Vienna.

The Chilean government’s national emergencies office, known as ONEMI, said some 200 people had been evacuated from the mostly rural areas south of the capital, Santiago, and that some 30 homes had been affected in the central provinces of Cardenal Caro and Colchagua.

Fire is seen on a hill in a town called Pirque, on the outskirts of Santiago, the capital of Chile, on January 20, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Described as the worst in decades, the vast forest fires have however left no human casualties.

Chile’s Agriculture Ministry also decreed a farming emergency. Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean president, made an appeal to other countries for help before the huge blaze encroached on other areas.