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Chile protests continue despite government u-turn on fare hike

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Firefighters spray water on a looted supermarket in Santiago (Esteban Felix/AP)

Firefighters spray water on a looted supermarket in Santiago (Esteban Felix/AP)

Firefighters spray water on a looted supermarket in Santiago (Esteban Felix/AP)

Protests and violence in Chile have spilled over into a new day even after the president cancelled a subway fare hike that prompted massive and violent demonstrations.

Officials in the Santiago region said three people died in a fire at a looted supermarket early on Sunday - one of 60 Walmart-owned outlets that have been vandalised - and the company said many stores did not open during the day.

At least two airlines cancelled or rescheduled flights into the capital, affecting more than 1,400 passengers on Sunday and Monday.

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 the fare increase imposed two weeks ago.

It led to major protests that included rioting that caused millions in damage to burned buses and vandalised subway stops, office buildings and stores.

Troops patrolled the streets and a state of emergency and curfew remained in effect for six cities, but renewed protests continued after daybreak.

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

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

Long queues formed at fuel stations as people tried to fill up for a week with a public transport system depleted by the destructive protests.

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

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