57 dead in central Portugal wildfires; many killed in cars

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 19, 2017

A huge forest fire in central Portugal has killed at least 25 people and injured 16 others, with a lot of them burning to death in their cars.

According to news reports, the fast-moving wildfires ripped through the forested Pedrógão Grande central region of Portugal, some 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon, leaving dozens dead and more injured.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Sunday that death toll was reduced from the previously reported 62 people because one victim had been counted twice by authorities.

Pope Francis has led thousands of people in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of the Portugal fire. A number of people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening.

Portugal is prone to forest fires during the dry summer months. Police are searching charred areas of the forest and isolated homes for more bodies.

"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.

The European Union has activated its civil protection efforts to help Portugal fight forest fires that have killed at least 43 people.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he is "overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande".

In a statement, the European Commission said they could provide aircraft, while Spain and France also offered aircraft. Local resident Isabel Brandao told The Associated Press that she had feared for her life. "The Portuguese people can count on our solidarity, support and care". "If it had rained, this would not happen". "I never thought it would come to this side", she said. Portuguese firefighters work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Figueiro dos Vinhos central Portugal, Sunday, June 18, 2017.

According to the prime minister, just 11 fires were still active but he said the authorities were "particularly anxious about two of them".

Costa said that while investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the fire, authorities believe that the high temperatures of 104 F in recent days may have played a part.

Hundreds of firefighters were still battling the flames on Sunday morning.

Gomes gave a grim description of the deaths to RTP. Most died from smoke inhalation and burns. At least four other significant wildfires affected different areas of the country on Sunday but the one in Pedrogao Grande was responsible for all the deaths.

This item has been corrected to show that Jorge Gomes is an Interior Ministry official, not interior minister. He said that "it was not possible to do more than what has been done" in prevention and responding to the fire.

Altre relazioni OverNewsmagazine

Discuti questo articolo