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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 14:27 GMT
Chile probes deadly weekend fires
Chilean firefighters clear the debris from the Valparaiso fire
It is feared some of the destroyed buildings were of historic value
An investigation is under way in Chile after a huge fire destroyed part of the historic port of Valparaiso, leaving at least three dead and six missing.

The blaze, which officials said was caused by a gas leak, swept through several buildings in the city, which is classed as a UN world heritage site.

It was one of two deadly fires in Chile over the weekend.

A fire swept through a small hotel in the southern city of Punta Arenas, killing 10 foreign tourists.

Four Argentines and four Germans are believed to be among the dead.


Witnesses said several people escaped by jumping from the second floor of the hotel, located in the centre of Punta Arenas, Chile's southernmost city and a popular tourist destination.

Fire officials said the blaze at the Blue House hostel was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

In Valparaiso, the search is continuing for people missing from Saturday's deadly fire.

There was good news on Monday when five people feared caught up in the blaze were found to be staying in other parts of the city.

The authorities have warned that it may take some time to identify the bodies discovered so far.

Residents have told Chilean media they had smelled gas for several hours before the explosion.

The fire took hold in an area that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003 by Unesco.

In pictures: Chile blaze
04 Feb 07 |  In Pictures
Timeline: Chile
11 Dec 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Chile
11 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

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