Israel offer aid as tourist questioned over Chile forest fire

By Jennifer Lipman, January 3, 2012

The Israeli foreign ministry has offered condolences to Chile after part of a national park was damaged in a forest fire.

The damage to the Torres de Paine National Park, in southern Chile, has been severe and the park remained closed to visitors on Tuesday.

An Israeli backpacker has been questioned by investigators over whether he accidentally started the fire, although he has denied the charges..

Rotem Singer, 23, is accused of failing properly to extinguish a burning roll of toilet paper. If convicted, he could spend 60 days in jail.

Israel offered to aid Chile in its clean-up efforts and to donate tree seedlings for the rehabilitation of the park.

"Israel has also experienced a similar disaster last year in the Carmel forests, and that painful memory enhances our sense of common destiny," said a spokesman. "The deep friendship the Israeli people feel toward Chile is as strong as ever, and we would therefore wish to send a mission of experts in forestry, to provide their colleagues with such assistance as might be required."

Last updated: 5:22pm, January 3 2012