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'Portugal weeps' as deadly forest fire rages

'Portugal weeps' as deadly forest fire rages

Portugal is observing three days of national mourning after the deaths Saturday night around the town of Pedrogao Grande, 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Lisbon.

A DEVASTATING wildfire in Portugal has left 43 dead and more than 59 others injured.

The forest fire broke out on a road linking the municipalities of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera, causing people to be trapped on a road surrounded by flames.

Hundreds of soldiers on Sunday joined some 700 firefighters who were striving to quench the blaze.

According to the Portuguese national news agency, Lusa, the official death toll now stands at 61, but they expect the number to rise as fire crews are able to safely douse the fires. "When I got to the village, I messaged my parents to tell them: 'I am in a village, fire is all around, this is the end, '" 36-year-old Gareth Roberts, who has lived in central Portugal for the past four years, told BBC news.

President Marcelo Rebelo went to the Leiria region to meet families of the victims, "sharing their pain in the name of all the Portuguese people", he said.

"Those are places I've visited in the past, and to see the images of the roads covered by fire with all those cars, it's really awful", said Silva, who has lived in Toronto for the past 14 years.

Three days of national mourning has been declared until Tuesday.

Australian Caleb Cluff was on holiday when he witnessed Portugal's fatal fires firsthand. "Let us pray in silence", he said.




A burnt out bush after a forest fire in the village of Figueiro dos Vinhos central Portugal, Sunday, June 18, 2017.

Almost 900 firefighters and 300 vehicles were still battling the blaze on Sunday afternoon as scenes of devastation could be seen around the town.

"I understand that it's very hard to control such a fire, but I don't understand why it's so hard to coordinate the movement of people", said Aires Henriques, who ended up driving for several hours along back roads to circumvent the fire area. It is often subject to forceful winds and inland temperatures sometimes hovering around 40 degrees Celsius, (104 Fahrenheit).

The European Union said it would provide firefighting planes from France while Spain dispatched two water-bombing aircraft.

PICTURE: A damaged vehicle near the area of the forest fires in Pedrogao Grande. The fire, which was still burning at the time of this article, spread rapidly on four fronts, creating five separate firestorms which raged through the small European country.

"We found the tree hit by the lightning", he said.

Pedrogao is by far the worst fire to hit Portugal in terms of victims. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he is "overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande".

As per the reports, there were eleven active fires remaining but the authorities were most concerned with the two fires that caused the most casualties. Sousa also spoke to the people caught in the tragedy praising them of the human warmth and solidarity that they displayed.


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