Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Portugal fires: Airplane crashes while fire-fighting

Portugal fires: Airplane crashes while fire-fighting

Officials say 47 of the dead in Saturday night's blaze died on a road as they fled the flames.

Planes from Spain, France, Italy and Morocco are among those helping to fight the fires.

More than 1,100 firefighters are still battling the wildfire that broke out over the weekend and hope to bring the blaze under control within the next 24 hours, reports The Guardian.

On Monday, Portuguese officials said giant clouds of smoke prevented the deployment of water-dropping aircraft on wildfires.

Local media had earlier reported a Canadair plane had crashed.

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His grandmother had rushed from Lisbon to try to find him but the bodies of Rodrigo and his uncle were found burnt beside a auto, caught by the flames as they tried to flee.

The deaths, the most in memory caused by forest fires in Portugal, have shown shortcomings in communication systems to evacuate people from villages.

We found ourselves stranded in a village called Mó Grande, just off of the IC8 motorway; ourselves and others were directed there by an officer from the IC8. "We thought that the road was safe but it wasn't", said Maria de Fatima.

"The smoke cloud is very low, which does not allow helicopters and fire planes to work efficiently. but we're doing everything possible and impossible to put out this fire", Gomes said, adding that no villages were now at risk. Two army battalions were helping the emergency services.

The fires, which police believe were started by lightning, killed 63 people, many of them dying in their cars while trying to escape from the blaze.

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Twelve people survived one of Portugal's deadliest fires by seeking refuge in a water tank after access to their village was cut off by the blaze.

"Some people stayed. Now we're waiting to see".

Another 62 people were injured, with five in a critical state including a child and four firefighters. "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 vehicle".

The worldwide community has stepped in to help, with Spain, France and Italy sending water-bombing planes.

Emergency services in Portugal said Tuesday they were making headway in their battle to control a major wildfire that killed more than 60 people in the central region of the country. Like more than half of the dead in Saturday's blaze, Daniel Starling had jumped in his auto and raced away as the flames bore down.

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