Chile's president declares state of emergency after riots over metro fare hike

Chile declares state of emergency amid student riots

Protests over metro fare increases escalated into clashes with riot police, with subway stations torched and vandalised.

"Unfortunately, five bodies have been found inside the factory", said Santiago Fire Chief Diego Velasquez.

Nearly all public transport in the capital of seven million people was paralyzed on Sunday even after the curfew ended at 7:00 am, with shops shuttered and many flights in and out of Santiago's global airport cancelled.

Three people have died in a fire at a supermarket in Chile as protests continue to ravage the country.

By late Saturday, protests had extended to another 20 cities, especially Valparaiso and Concepcion, where states of emergency were also declared.

Rubilar said at a news conference two people died inside the supermarket while the third died after being taken to a hospital.

What started as a mass student protest over increasing public transport fares has morphed into looting, riots and now a state of emergency in Chile.

The violence was sparked by an 830 peso (£0.90) rise in metro fares, but has exposed deep discontent over inequality in a country believed to be Latin America's most stable.

President Sebastian Pinera's announcement that he would suspend a hike in subway fares was too little, and too late, to immediately defuse the tension.

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The president said the state of emergency was meant to ensure "the security of residents, protecting goods and the rights of each one of our compatriots who have seen complications from the actions of true criminals".

Louis de Grange, president of the state Metro SA company, told Canal 13 the "brutal destruction" of Santiago's metro service had caused more than US$300 million in damage.

The announcement by a grim-faced Pinera shortly after midnight came after 12 hours of intense unrest in the city center, where protesters clashed with police who used tear gas and water cannons, according to the interior ministry, witnesses and television footage.

Soldiers have been deployed in the capital as well as the O'Higgins and Coquimbo regions that have experienced unrest.

A demonstrator is detained by the police during a protest in Santiago, Chile, Saturday.

The price hike raises the cost of subway fares from approximately $1 to $1.16 (€0.90 to $1.04).

Protests began in Santiago after the government proposed increasing the price of Metro tickets.

At some level of Friday, rampaging protesters clashed with rebellion police in lots of aspects of the capital while the headquarters of the ENEL Chile energy firm and a Banco Chile division - both within town heart - were set on fire and heavily broken.

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