Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Devastating forest fire kills more than 60 in central Portugal

Devastating forest fire kills more than 60 in central Portugal

Portugal declared three days of national mourning on Sunday after a forest fire triggered by thunderstorms in the north of the country killed more than 60 people, many of them fleeing in their cars. "One of my colleagues lost her mother and her four-year-old girl as she could not get them out of the back of the auto", the 62-year-old said. The fires took place in the Pedrogao Grande area, which is 95 miles N-E of Lisbon.

Fires on the tourist island of Madeira in August killed three people, while across 2016 around 40 homes were destroyed and 5,400 hectares of land burned.

Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal affairs said most of the victims were caught in their vehicles on the road.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said, this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires.

The European Union has responded to a call for assistance to Portugal. Police say a lightning strike probably caused the blaze in a region hit by an intense heat wave.

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Such storms are frequent when falling water evaporates before reaching the ground because of high temperatures.

A forest fire has claimed 61 lives in Portugal, the country's National Civil Protection Agency revealed on Sunday. The fire area is covered in dense woodland over steep hills.

Portuguese Interior Minister Urbano de Sousa said that Portugal's judicial police was expected to finish the identification of the bodies soon and would release the list of them as early as possible.

More than 350 soldiers joined the ranks with 700 firefighters on Sunday to help put out the flames. In a tweet, Mr Modi said, he is sad to learn about the tragic incident. "This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we can not remember a tragedy of these proportions", said Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrogao Grande.

Gomes said that 14 civilians had been injured, 10 of them seriously, along with six firefighters.

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Costa tweeted his "deepest regret for the victims. and a word of encouragement and strength for all who help combat this scourge". "I am completely stunned by the number of deaths".

Stylianides also said France and Spain would offer planes to assist local emergency efforts.

"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we can not remember a tragedy of these proportions", said Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrogao Grande.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, attending the match in Russian Federation, showed his support to those affected by the fire.

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