"Firstly, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this tragedy," the Director-General said. He also announced that "UNESCO stands ready to extend emergency assistance to the appropriate Chilean authorities in their effort to repair the damage caused to the historic centre of Valparaiso. We are in touch with the authorities and will do all we can to help them preserve this outstanding landmark. I have fond memories of my visit to Valparaiso, in the company of its mayor, before the city was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2003. I remember the city as a place of great beauty, bearing rich testimony to the region's cultural, economic and social history."A mission of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre will visit Valparaiso in early March and will discuss restoration plans with the local authorities.
For more information on the fire, try this story from The Santiago Times. It notes:
In Valparaíso’s historic Puerto neighborhood, the gas leak caused a blast so severe that it downed power lines and blew out windows in a three-block radius. The explosion also resulted in a massive fire that consumed three buildings along Calle Serrano (ST, Feb. 5, 2007).Comment: My sympathy too goes out to the people of Valparaiso, who were so hospitable and kind to me in the years I lived in that beautiful city. JAD