SANTIAGO, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said Saturday that the origin of the forest fires that have burned half a million of hectares remains unknown and that a deliberate intent cannot be ruled out.
In the last two weeks, the fires have killed 11 people, destroyed 1,089 homes and sent thousands into shelters.
"It is true that we are facing an unprecedented state of heat, wind and low humidity which makes this far more risky. But there is a series of strange factors that the experts are investigating," said Bachelet in a press conference.
"While we have no precise information allowing us to point to a certain group ... we must avoid these campaigns that seek to point the finger at a highly orchestrated matter," she added.
According to the latest figures, 175 fires are active nationally, including 59 controlled ones, 71 being fought, and five have been extinguished. In total, 480,000 hectares forest have been affected.
The Attorney General of Chile has detained around a dozen people suspected of starting the fires, but has stated the magnitude of all the fires means that a concerted effort was unlikely.
The regions of Coquimbo and Valparaiso in the north, the metropolitan area of Santiago in the center, and the southern regions of O'Higgins, Maule, Biobio and Araucania have all been hit.
The government has been overwhelmed by the range of the disaster and called for international aid a week ago.