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Chile suspends Metro price hike after 3 die in supermarket fire

By Clyde Hughes
Chile suspends Metro price hike after 3 die in supermarket fire
People burn objects as demonstrations against the increase of Metro fares take place, in Santiago, Chile Saturday. Chilean authorities called off the price hikes after three people died in a supermarket fire. Photo by Elvis Gonzalez/EPA-EFE

Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said late Saturday that authorities will suspend a plan to increase the price of Metro tickets after a week of protests led to the death of three people in a supermarket fire.

The supermarket incident in the country's capital of Santiago Saturday marked the first deaths resulting from the protests. Chile's military was called on to restore order and the Santiago metro region was placed under curfew until 6 a.m. Sunday morning, Eastern time.

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Santiago Mayor Karla Rubilar said the supermarket fire remained under investigation. Rubilar said at a news conference two people died inside the supermarket while the third died after being taken to a hospital.

In a news conference late Saturday, Pinera announced he was dropping plans for the transportation increase.

"We are going to suspend the metro fare hikes," Pinera said. "I have heard with humility the voice of my compatriots."

Pinera had declared a state of emergency Friday because of the ongoing protests. He said the move was made after demonstrators set fire to metro stations and an electric company. Authorities attempted to break up crowds with tear gas.

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Law enforcement arrested at least 180 people during the demonstrations Friday while 57 officers suffered injuries, Chilean Police Director-General Mario Rozas said.

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