Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

At Least 19 Dead in Forest Fire in Portugal

At Least 19 Dead in Forest Fire in Portugal

A wildfire swept through central Portugal on Saturday, killing more than 60 people and injuring dozens more in what the country's prime minister called "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years".

Other 54 people were injured, including four firefighters and a seriously injured minor, Gomes told state broadcaster RTP.

Portugal declares three days of national mourning after the most deadly forest fire in its recent history raged through the center of the country.

Soon after the incident took place, almost 600 firefighters and 160 vehicles were sent to to tackle the blaze, which broke out in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande which is about 50 kilometres from Coimbra.

Costa also took to Twitter to thank rescue workers for their efforts to control the blaze, and send condolences to the victims who died.

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Resident Isabel Brandao told The Associated Press that she had feared for her life when she saw the blaze.

Mariano Rajoy has tweeted that he is "overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande".

He said the death toll was lowered from the previously reported 62 victims because one person had been counted twice.

"I express my closeness to the beloved people of Portugal following the devastating fire", Francis said.

A local resident who fled from a forest fire in central Portugal has blamed the lack of rain for helping produce the blaze that has killed 43 people and injured scores more. "If it had rained, this would not happen". Authorities say temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the area in recent days might have also played a part in the inferno. "I don't want to talk yet about the cause of the fire because we are facing the greatest tragedy of human lives so, what we must do now is to calmly provide all the resources to fight the fires".

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"The fire is still raging on four fronts", Gomes said, two spreading "violently".

Thirty bodies were found inside cars and nearly 20 more were found next to vehicles, Portuguese officials said.

This item has been corrected to show that Jorge Gomes is an Interior Ministry official, not interior minister.

Fernando Lopes, head of the town hall in Castanheira de Pera near the central Portuguese city of Leiria close to where many people were killed after being trapped in their cars on a rural road, said: "This is a catastrophic situation".

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