Portugal in 3-day mourning for over 60 forest fire victims

Penela, Sunday @PeopleDailyKe A catastrophic forest fire in Portugal has claimed at least 62 lives, officials say. Most died while trying ...

A firefighter rests next to fire combat truck during a wildfire at Penela, Coimbra, central Portugal. The fire killed at least 60 people and injured many others. Photo/AFP

Penela, Sunday @PeopleDailyKe

A catastrophic forest fire in Portugal has claimed at least 62 lives, officials say. Most died while trying to flee the Pedrógão Grande area, 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Coimbra, in their cars, according to the government.

Several fire fighters are among the more than 50 people injured. “Unfortunately this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires,” said Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

“The death toll could rise further,” he said. The authorities have declared three days of national mourning, starting on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, nearly 900 firefighters and 300 vehicles were still battling the blaze as scenes of devastation could be seen around the town.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said that 30 of those who died were found inside cars, with another 17 next to the vehicles, on one road leading on to the IC8 motorway.

Another 11 died in a village next to the motorway, Gomes said. The European Union said it would provide fire-fighting planes following a request from Lisbon.

“France has offered three planes through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and they will be quickly sent to assist the local emergency efforts,” EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said.

Portugal was sweltering under a severe heat-wave over the weekend, with temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in several regions. About 60 forest fires broke out across the country during the night.

“The fire is still raging on four fronts,” Gomes said, two spreading “violently”. Dry thunderstorms were thought to have been the cause, according to the prime minister. A number of villages were affected by the main fire and homes were evacuated. Some were sheltered in neighbouring areas. -AFP and BBC

The post Portugal in 3-day mourning for over 60 forest fire victims appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.



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