Chile riots: Death toll rises as rioting continues over rise in subway fares

Jason Collie

Five more people have been killed as rioting continued in Chile despite the country’s president cancelling a subway fare rise that sparked the protests.

Officials in the Santiago region said the victims had been found in the basement of a burned warehouse. It followed the deaths of three people in fires at two looted supermarkets earlier on Sunday.

Protests began on Monday following a four per cent increase on subway fares.

Riots and looting continued during Sunday night, as buses were burnt out and subway stations, office buildings and shops were vandalised.

At least two airlines also cancelled or rescheduled flights into the capital.

Troops on patrol (AFP via Getty Images)

President Sebastian Pinera, facing the worst crisis of his second term as head of the South American country, announced on Saturday night that he was cancelling a subway fare rise imposed two weeks ago.

Authorities said 10,500 soldiers and police officers were patrolling the streets in Santiago as state of emergency and curfew remained in effect for six Chilean cities, but protests continued during the day.

Tear gas is fired at protesters in Santiago (AP)

Security forces used tear gas and jets of water to try disperse crowds.

Interior Minister Andres Chadwick reported that 62 police officers and 11 civilians were injured in the latest disturbances and prosecutors said nearly 1,500 people had been arrested.

He said late on Sunday that there had been more than 70 “serious events” during the day, including more than 40 incidents of looting.

After meeting with the heads of the legislature and judicial system, Mr Pinera said they discussed solutions to the current crisis and that he aims “to reduce excessive inequalities, inequities, abuses, that persist in our society”.

Protesters run for cover (REUTERS)

Jaime Quintana, president of the Senate, said that “the political world must take responsibility for how we have come to this situation”.

Santiago’s subway, which carries an average of 2.4 million passengers on a weekday, has been shut down since Friday.

Subway system chief Louis De Grange said workers would try to have at least one line running on Monday, but feared it could take weeks or months to have the four others back in service.

He said 85 stations and more than three-fourths of the system had been severely damaged.

Additional reporting from the Associated Press