The Latest: Portugal Forest Fire Death Toll Rises to 39 — “Still could be more dead”

LISBON, Portugal — The Latest on Portugal forest fires (all times local):

8:25 a.m.

A Portuguese interior ministry official says that the death toll in the forest fires raging in central Portugal has increased to 39.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes has been quoted as giving the new figure on public broadcaster RTP. Government officials say many of victims died in their cars when flames swept over a road.

About 600 firefighters are fighting blazes that are raging in the Pedrogao Grande area about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

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This item has been corrected to show that Jorge Gomes is an Interior Ministry official, not interior minister.

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4:35 a.m.

Portuguese radio station TSF says the Interior Ministry has confirmed that 25 people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal.

Government officials say many of victims died in their cars when flames swept over a road.

About 600 firefighters are fighting blazes that are raging in the Pedrogao Grande area about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

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BBC News

A catastrophic forest fire in Portugal has claimed at least 43 lives, officials say.

Many 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 firefighters are among the 59 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.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said that three people died from smoke inhalation and 18 people travelling in four cars died on the road linking Figueiró dos Vinhos to Castanheira de Pera.

Flames raging around a road in Pedrógão Grande

Media in Portugal said the fire is no closer to being contained despite about 600 firefighters working to put them out. EPA photo

Among the 59 injured was an eight-year-old girl with burns found wandering alone close to the fire, the Correio do Manhã newspaper reported.

Six firefighters are seriously wounded, national broadcaster RTP said, and two are reported missing.

The Correio do Manhã warned that many areas hit by the fire had not yet been reached by authorities, so the death toll was likely to increase.

A house on fire near Pedrógão Grande
A number of houses near Pedrógão Grande have been destroyed. EPA Photo

About 60 forest fires broke out across the country overnight, with close to 1,700 firefighters battling them across Portugal.

The flames spread “with great violence” on four fronts near Pedrógão Grande, Mr Gomes said.

Spain has sent two water-bombing planes to help tackle the fires.

It is not yet known what caused the fire, however Mr Costa said thunderstorms could have been one possible cause.

Portugal has been experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures of more than 40C (104F) in some areas.

“This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions,” said Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrógão Grande, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press agency.

“I am completely stunned by the number of deaths.”

Firefighters rest during a wildfire at Penela, Coimbra, central Portugal, on June 18, 2017
Firefighters pause as the wildfire continues behind them. AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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One Response to “The Latest: Portugal Forest Fire Death Toll Rises to 39 — “Still could be more dead””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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