Posts Tagged ‘FIRE’

After London fire, PM says other tower blocks have combustible cladding

June 22, 2017

Reuters

A number of British tower blocks have combustible cladding, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday, citing the results of tests conducted after a fire killed at least 79 people in London.

Flames spread rapidly up the 24-storey residential tower block last week, trapping people inside, in what was Britain’s worst blaze since World War Two. Exterior cladding added during a refurbishment may have played a part, residents have said.

The disaster heaped pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, already fighting for her political survival after a snap election saw her party lose its parliamentary majority. It has acted as a focal point for anger at government cuts to local authority funding and drawn accusations of criminal negligence.

“(We) should of course be careful on speculating what caused this fire, but as a precaution the government has arranged to test cladding on all relevant tower blocks,” May told parliament.

“Shortly before I came to the chamber, I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible.”

She said local authorities and fire services had been informed and were taking steps to make affected buildings safe and to inform residents.

May has launched a public inquiry into the fire and police have announced a criminal investigation.

May said tests on the cladding of Grenfell Tower where the fire blazed would be made public in the next 48 hours.

“This has been a wake-up call for the whole country,” said Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party.

“Residents of tower blocks all over the country are concerned, worried and frightened for their own safety. What we need is a step change in our attitude toward housing in this country.”

After apologizing for a slow state response to the fire, May said it was right that the head of the local council had resigned. Nicholas Holgate, chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council, said he was forced out by the government.

(Reporting by William James and James Davey; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Portugal is likely to see more massive forest fires

June 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Laurence COUSTAL | Heat waves have become more frequent in Portugal, say experts

PARIS (AFP) – Highly exposed to global warming’s climate-altering impacts, Portugal is likely to see more massive forest fires such as the one — still raging — that has killed at least 60 people this weekend, experts say.- Why Portugal, why now? –

The Iberian peninsula encompassing Portugal and Spain is experiencing a warmer, drier June than usual, explains Thomas Curt, a researcher at France’s Irstea climate and agriculture research institute.

Added to that, the country has vast expanses of highly inflammable plants, including forests of pine and eucalyptus trees.

“Hotter air is synonymous with drier and more inflammable vegetation,” said Curt. “The more the mercury climbs, so does the risk of fires and their intensity.”

Temperatures in the region have warmed by more than the global average over the past half century, according to a 2014 review of climate change impacts on Portugal.

Heat waves have become more frequent, and annual rainfall slightly less, said the review published in the journal WIREs Climate Change.

More frequent and pronounced heat waves are expected in future, accompanied by a “substantial increase” in fire risk — “both in severity and in length of the fire season,” it said.

– Does global warming boost forest fire risk? –

“It is certain — we are experiencing a rise in temperatures,” said Curt.

The Northern hemisphere summer has lengthened over the past 50 years from July-to-August, to June-to-October now — meaning a longer fire risk season.

There has been an increase in major fires of more than 100 hectares, and so-called “megafires” of more than 1,000 hectares, the researcher added.

“It is truly a growing problem everywhere in the world, and notably in Mediterranean Europe.”

These mega blazes remain rare — only about 2-3 percent of all fires — but are responsible for about three-quarters of all surface burnt.

“Many analyses of climate change show that these major fires will become more and more likely,” said Curt.

– What to do? –

In the short term, reinforce firefighting capacity, deploy patrols, set up watchtowers to raise the alarm, and ban fire-making everywhere.

Over the longer term, human settlements and green areas will need to be substantially redesigned, experts say.

Some forest will have to be cut back, undergrowth cleared, and residential areas moved further from scrubland and forest borders, to reduce the risk to life and property.

“The focus of efforts should shift from combating forest fires as they arise to preventing them from existing, through responsible long-term forest management,” green group WWF said.

“Responsible forest management is more effective and financially more efficient than financing the giant firefighting mechanisms that are employed every year.”

In the yet longer term, added Curt, “of course, we need to curtail global warming itself.”

by Laurence COUSTAL

Grenfell Tower: 79 presumed dead in London fire

June 19, 2017

Updated 7:21 AM ET, Mon June 19, 2017

London (CNN)At least 79 people are dead or missing and presumed dead following the fire that tore through the 24-story Grenfell Tower in London, police have said.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy told a press conference Monday that only five victims have been formally identified so far, and the death toll may change.
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“Sadly for many families they have lost more than one family member,” said Cundy, who added that the “painstaking” search and recovery operation is proceeding as quickly as possible, but may take “many many weeks.”
The burnt-out shell of Grenfell Tower on Friday.

Cundy explained that one of the reasons identification has been so difficult is because dental records are needed from victims who hailed from different countries around the world.
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However, five people who were originally reported as missing have since been found safe and well.
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The UK Press Association reported that 17 people are still being treated in London hospitals, of whom nine remained in critical care on Monday.

Nothing could have prepared me

London Police Commander Stuart Cundy has been inside the devastated building.

The police chief, who went inside the charred shell of the high-rise tower over the weekend, told reporters: “I’ve investigated major crime for most of my service and I’ve seen some terrible things but I don’t think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there.”
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The government has promised a public inquiry, and police have opened a criminal investigation.
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Cundy said the “complex” and “exhaustive” inquiry will focus on a range of issues including how the building was constructed, a recent refurbishment of it, how it is managed and maintained and fire safety measures.
Speculation has focused on the role that cladding apparently used in a recent refurbishment of the tower may have played in the fire.
Anger boils over after London apartment fire

Anger boils over after London apartment fire 02:27
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A senior UK government minister said Sunday that he believed the cladding is banned in Britain for buildings above a certain height.
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“My understanding is the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the US, is also banned here,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told the BBC’s “The Andrew Marr Show.”
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“So there are two separate questions. One, are our regulations correct, do they permit the right kind of materials and ban the wrong kind of materials? The second question is were they correctly complied with?”
Hammond said that will be a focus of the inquiry and investigation.
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Rydon, the company that carried out the recent refurbishment, said the “project met all required building regulations.”
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Police are conducting a complex investigation to see if a crime was committed in relation to the fire.

Authorities have also faced questions about why the block, built in the 1970s and home to 125 families, was never fitted with a sprinkler system that might have saved lives.
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“I would like to reassure everybody that we will be looking at all criminal offenses that may have been committed by any individual or any organization,” said Cundy.

Britain remembers victims

Britain observed a moment of silence at 11 a.m. Monday in remembrance of the victims. It was joined by firefighters from stations across the country.
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An emotional firefighter observes a moment of silence Monday near Grenfell Tower.

A vigil is due to be held in Parliament Square in central London Monday evening.
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Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a fund of £5 million ($6.4 million) to help those affected by the blaze.
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http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/19/europe/london-grenfell-tower-fire/index.html

See also:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/london-fire-grenfell-tower-likely-death-toll-rises-79-n773966

https://www.wsj.com/articles/death-toll-rises-to-79-in-londons-grenfell-tower-fire-1497867220

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Grenfell Tower Fire Survivors Refuse When Government Offers Free Lodging in Other High Rise Buildings — After Chancellor Admits Cladding in Grenfell Tower Blaze is ALREADY Illegal in Britain

June 18, 2017

Urban Search and Rescue officers from London Fire Brigade inside the Grenfell Tower in west London
  • At least 58 people have died, or are missing or presumed dead after the blaze
  • Local resident said survivors were offered accommodation in high-rise hotels
  • Nadia said one family ‘freaked out’ when they were told they could stay there  

Survivors of the horrific Grenfell Tower inferno have ‘freaked out’ after being offered temporary accommodation in high-rise tower blocks.

A local resident known only as Nadia, who lives close to the 24-storey tower in west London, revealed one of the men who escaped the burning building was offered a place to stay in a hotel.

But she said he refused to go there with his children because they were frightened to enter a tall building similar to the one they dramatically fled.

Police have said at least 58 people died, or are missing, presumed dead, after the devastating blaze ravaged the tower block in the early hours of Wednesday.

A local resident, called Nadia (pictured), revealed that some of the survivors have been offered a place to stay in high-rise hotels 

A local resident, called Nadia (pictured), revealed that some of the survivors have been offered a place to stay in high-rise hotels

She was speaking just around the corner from Grenfell Tower and added that a man 'freaked out'

She was speaking just around the corner from Grenfell Tower and added that a man ‘freaked out’

Speaking just yards from the scene, Nadia said: ‘The survivors are not watching the news. They don’t want to see their houses burning.

‘They don’t want to see it so they don’t know that you are doing all this kind stuff.’

She then showed a photograph of a man who lived in the building and said he was offered a place to live in a high-rise hotel.

Nadia added: ‘They wanted to put him in a building which is a high-rise building. He freaked out because he doesn’t want to put his children in a high-rise building – would you?

‘They have been trying to re-house them in the building but they [the survivors] do not want to go in it. Would you? Do you blame them?

‘He freaked out, he said he does not want to put my children in that building.

‘His wife, I hugged her, she cried in my arms for five minutes.’

She then showed a picture of the hotel where the survivors were offered a place to stay and again described it as being a ‘high-rise tower’.

Nadia said: ‘The wife said “I don’t want to go higher than the first floor”.’

She also claimed that some those who lived in Grenfell Tower have been offered rooms in Manchester and Birmingham.

Nadia added: ‘They have been offered accommodation in tower blocks in Manchester and Birmingham. Can you believe it? Tower blocks?

‘They’ve just escaped from a burning tower block – they don’t want to go in one again.

‘It’s an absolute disgrace. They are scared and terrified after what’s happened to them.’

Read the rest:

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4615054/Survivors-freaked-offered-accommodation.html#ixzz4kLealZMD
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 (Contains links to all related previous articles)

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  • Attention has focused on the causes of the devastating blaze on Wednesday 
  • Cladding installed on the tower block was flammable and acted as a chimney 
  • The material is illegal in America and Germany but was installed on Grenfell 
  • Hammond today revealed he understood it was also illegal in Britain 

Flammable cladding that helped the inferno which destroyed the Grenfell tower is already illegal on tall buildings in Britain, Philip Hammond claimed today.

The Chancellor said criminal probes and a public inquiry into the disaster would answer why the controversial material was used.

It emerged today that the cladding installed on Grenfell was not designed for use on buildings taller than 10metres high – a fraction of the 67metre Grenfell block.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said cladding with a flammable core – like that used on Grenfell Tower – was banned on buildings over 18metres high.

Philip Hamomnd told the BBC'd Andrew Marr today that flammable cladding which fuelled the inferno which destroyed the Grenfell tower is already illegal in Britain

Philip Hamomnd told the BBC’d Andrew Marr today that flammable cladding which fuelled the inferno which destroyed the Grenfell tower is already illegal in Britain

Since the devastating blaze, which killed at least 58, suspicion has focused on how and why the cladding on the building both burned and helped the fire spread by acting a chimney.

It has emerged the cladding used was a cheaper option chosen during a recent refurbishment of Grenfell. Spending just £6,000 more would have meant a non-flammable product.

Mr Hammond told Marr: ‘My understanding the cladding in question – this flammable cladding that is banned in Europe and the US – is also banned here.

‘So there are two separate questions. Are our regulations correct, do they permit the right kind of materials and ban the wrong kind of materials.

‘The second question is were they correctly complied with.

‘That will be a question the inquiry will look at, it will also be a question the separate criminal investigation will be looking at.’

It was not clear from Mr Hammond’s remarks whether the Government believes the type of cladding panel used is illegal in all circumstances or just above 10m, in line with the manufacturers’ guidelines, revealed today by the Mail on Sunday.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government told the Sunday Times: ‘Cladding using a composite aluminium panel with a polyethylene core should not be used for cladding on a building taller than 18m.’

DCLG could not confirm what material was installed on the Grenfell Tower.

But the description given does match the Reynobond PE used when the block was overhauled last year.

Since the devastating blaze (pictured), which killed at least 58, suspicion has focused on how and why the cladding on the building both burned and helped the fire spread by acting a chimney

Since the devastating blaze (pictured), which killed at least 58, suspicion has focused on how and why the cladding on the building both burned and helped the fire spread by acting a chimney

The Chancellor vowed the Government would address any issues raised by the public inquiry when it reports.

But he ducked immediate questions, such as whether sprinkler systems should be immediately installed.

Mr Hammond said the inquiry must be allowed to investigate the issues and make its recommendations.

He said: ‘My understanding is that the best expert advice is that retrofitting sprinklers may not always be the best technical way of ensuring fire safety in a building.’

Mr Hammond added: ‘The commitment that government should make, and I’ll make it now, is that when the inquiry produces its evidence, and I don’t mean in years time because we are going to ask them to produce interim findings, when it produces its findings, we will act on them.’

Pressed on why the Government did not implement the finding of a report into a 2009 fire in Southwark, Mr Hammond said: ‘We’ve looked at those recommendations and what’s happened to them.

‘My assessment is that we have responded correctly and appropriately to those recommendations.’

Mr Hammond was challenged by the BBC's Andrew Marr today on why the material - which is banned in America and Germany - was used on British homes

Mr Hammond was challenged by the BBC’s Andrew Marr today on why the material – which is banned in America and Germany – was used on British homes

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4615012/Chancellor-claims-Grenfell-cladding-illegal.html#ixzz4kLlG9iIc
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Portugal forest fires kill 43, many burn to death in their cars

June 18, 2017

Portugal, like most southern European countries, is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 11:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 5:34pm

Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 43 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Sunday called “the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years”

The death toll initially stood at 25 in the early morning and the updated figure was given by public broadcaster RTP said the death toll, citing Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes.

The fatalities occurred in the Pedrogao Grande area, about 150 kilometres northeast of Lisbon, where about 600 firefighters have been trying to put out the fires since Saturday, Gomes said.

Gomes said that at least 16 people were killed when their vehicles were engulfed by flames on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera, and three others died from smoke inhalation in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

 Firefighters rest during the wildfire. Photo: AFP

No information was immediately given on how the others were killed.

A huge wall of thick smoke and bright red flames towered over the top of trees near houses in the wooded region.

Spanish state television showed terrifying images from the neighbouring country of several people on a road trying to escape the intense smoke that had reduced visibility to a question of a few meters. A young man shared a bottle of water with a distraught woman as she stumbled down the road.

Local resident Isabel Brandao said that she had feared for her life.

 Firefighters work to contain the forest fire. Photo: EPA

“Yesterday we saw the fire but thought it was very far. I never thought it would come to this side,” she said.

“At 3:30 a.m., my mother-in-law woke me up quickly and we never went to sleep again. We were afraid the fire would reach us.”

RTP said there are at least another 20 people injured, including six firefighters. Fourteen of the injured were in serious condition, RTP said.

Dry thunderstorms could have been the cause of the fatal blaze, according to the prime minister.

A huge wall of thick smoke and bright red flames towered over the top of trees near houses in the wooded region.

 A firefighter helps a woman during the forest fire. Photo: EPA

“This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions,” said Valdemar Alves, mayor of Pedrogao Grande.

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

Costa said that firefighting crews were having difficulties in approaching the area because the fire was “very intense.”

He added that Portuguese authorities were working on identifying the victims and that Spanish rescuers would assist in efforts to control the blazes.

 Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (L) embraces Secretary of State of Internal Administration Jorge Gomes. Photo: EPA

Costa said that while investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the fire, authorities believe that the high temperatures of 40 Celsius in recent days may have played a part.

Portugal, like most southern European countries, is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months.

Portugal was hit by a series of fires last year which devastated more than 1,000 square kilometres of the mainland.

Fires on the tourist island of Madeira in August killed three people, while over the course of 2016 around 40 homes were destroyed and 5,400 hectares of land burned.

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan Buildings as Dangerous as Grenfell Tower Should Be Torn Down — “This is a national tragedy with national consequences.”

June 18, 2017

Tower blocks could be torn down after Grenfell Tower fire

Tower blocks could be torn down after Grenfell Tower fire CREDIT: NIGEL HOWARD/EYELINE

High-rise tower blocks dating from the 1960s and 1970s could be torn down in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire, London mayor Sadiq Khan said.

Writing in the Observer, Mr Khan it may well be the “defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes” of that era become a thing of the past.

Thirty people have been confirmed dead following the devastating inferno in north Kensington, with a further 28 missing presumed dead.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan meets residents while visiting Grenfell Tower, 
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan meets residents while visiting Grenfell Tower,  CREDIT: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP

Mr Khan said the images of the 24-storey building being ravaged by fire “should be forever seared into our nation’s collective memory”.

He said: “Little can compare in recent times to a tragedy on this scale – the response from the local authority has simply not been good enough. Residents feel abandoned by those with the power – the council and government.

“This is a national tragedy with national consequences. What emerges in the coming weeks and months will be very difficult for many people, including politicians and organisations, but we must get to the truth.

“Those who mock health and safety, regulations and red tape need to take a hard look at the consequences of cutting these and ask themselves whether Grenfell Tower is a price worth paying.”

Mr Khan said an inquiry should be properly resourced so it can get the full truth about the fire as quickly as possible.

He said: “The greatest legacy of this tragedy may well end up being the skyline of our towns and cities.

“Nowadays, we would not dream of building towers to the standards of the 1970s, but their inhabitants still have to live with that legacy.

“It may well be the defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are systematically torn down.”

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Cheap cladding fuelled Grenfell Tower inferno — Expect building code reviews — Warnings at Grenfell Tower ignored for at least 18 years

June 18, 2017

Urban Search and Rescue officers from London Fire Brigade inside the Grenfell Tower in west London

The New South Wales Government is considering tougher regulations on the use of combustible cladding in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state’s building safety measures were being reconsidered “with a sense of urgency” after reports cheap cladding used on the outside of the London tower block fuelled the inferno now believed to have killed nearly 60 people.

State Government documents have warned up to 2,500 buildings in NSW could be fitted with flammable cladding.

“We have been working very hard behind the scenes since the tragedy in London,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We are making sure there is no stone left unturned here in NSW.

“We’ve got our agencies working with a sense of urgency about this and as soon as we can we will bring forward any action we need to take.”

This week cabinet will consider setting up an interdepartmental taskforce to prevent risky building products from being used.

The NSW Master Builders Association said the danger came from imported products that do not meet safety requirements.

“It’s important to stop the tragedies that happen as we saw in London,” executive director Brian Seidler said.

“There has to be some form of border protection on products that come into Australia.

“If there’s some sort of task force that is established that assists in identifying non-conforming building products then we would have to support that.”

Ms Berejiklian said she also believed it was appropriate to have a discussion about national laws relating to regulations.

The burnt out shell of Grenfell Tower.

Topics: fires, states-and-territories, building-and-construction, residential, nsw, united-kingdom

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-18/nsw-to-investigate-building-safety-in-wake-of-london-fire/8628698

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See also:

Warnings over ‘deathtrap’ high-rise building cladding ‘ignored’ for decades

 A local residents holds a section of the burnt cladding which fell from Grenfell Tower during the blaze
A local residents holds a section of the burnt cladding which fell from Grenfell Tower during the blaze CREDIT: MARK THOMAS/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Fire safety experts warned as long ago as 1999 that the cladding used on buildings such as Grenfell Tower posed a deadly threat to hundreds of residents inside, it has emerged.

The experts, from industry and the firefighters’ union, predicted that such cladding could help drive any fire upwards to quickly engulf an entire building.

In a chilling premonition of what would happen 18 years later at Grenfell Tower – where at least at least 58 people are now feared to have been killed – Fire Brigades Union official Glyn Evans told MPs: “The problem with cladding is that it will, if it is able, spread fire and it will spread it vertically. If you get multistorey buildings you will get fire spread up the outside if the cladding will permit it.”

After hearing evidence from Mr Evans and others, a House of Commons committee concluded in early 2000 that the authorities could not afford to wait before taking action to tackle the risk.

It’s report stated: “We do not believe that it should take a serious fire in which many people are killed before all reasonable steps are taken towards minimising the risks.”

Members of the emergency services work inside the charred remnains of Grenfell Tower 
Members of the emergency services work inside the charred remnains of Grenfell Tower  CREDIT: TOLGA AKMEN/ AFP

The report appears to have been one of several alarm bells rung over the safety of high rise buildings which went unheeded.

There now is a growing conviction among construction and fire experts that the cladding system fixed to Grenfell Tower to improve the energy efficiency and appearance of the building as part of a £8.6 million refurbishment helped spread the fire.

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/17/warnings-deathtrap-high-rise-building-cladding-ignored-decades/

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

June 18, 2017

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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25 dead from huge forest fires in Portugal

June 18, 2017

AP and France 24

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© Screengrab, FRANCE 24 | Portuguese firefighters

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-06-18

At least 25 people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, officials said early Sunday.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said the deaths occurred in the Pedrogao Grande area, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Lisbon, where some 600 firefighters are trying to put out the fires since Saturday.

Gomes said 16 people were killed in their cars on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera, and three others died from smoke inhalation in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

Voir l'image sur TwitterVoir l'image sur Twitter
Voir l'image sur TwitterVoir l'image sur Twitter

19 people died on the road surrounded by fire and many more are injured.
People are losing their homes and memories.
Portugal needs help!

Public broadcaster RTP said there were about 20 injured, including six firefighters. Fourteen of the injured were in serious condition, RTP said.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa called it “the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years.” He said Portuguese authorities were working on identifying the victims and that Spanish rescuers would assist in efforts to control the blazes.

Televised images showed a huge wall of bright red flames leaping over the top of trees in the wooded region.

Portugal has suffered high temperatures that have reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degress Fahrenheit) in recent days.

The southern European country is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months.

(AP)

London Police Say 58 People Assumed Dead in Tower Block Blaze

June 17, 2017

LONDON — British police said that 58 people were now assumed to have died in this week’s blaze at a London tower block.

“Sadly at this time, there are 58 people who we have been told were in Grenfell Tower on the night that are missing and therefore sadly I have to assume that they are dead,” Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters, adding that the figure could change.

Police had previously put the death toll at 30. Cundy said the figure of 58 included that toll given earlier.

(Reporting by Kate Holton and Alistair Smout; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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LONDON—London police said Saturday that 58 people were presumed dead from the high-rise tower fire earlier this week, but warned the number might change as the search operation continues.

The number included the previously announced death toll of 30, London police commander Stuart Cundy said.

The fire ripped through the hulking 24-story tower in west London early Wednesday.

Critics have questioned whether officials were too slow to address concerns about fire-safety measures in low-income housing. On Friday, protesters barged into a meeting at the town of the local council responsible for the building, chanting “We want justice!” and “Shame on you!”

A focus of attention has been the aluminum cladding on the building’s recently refurbished exterior, and whether the material contributed to the fire’s quick spread.

Residents, who had complained for years that the building wasn’t fire-safe, have questioned how a disaster of such severity could happen in a country as wealthy as the U.K. and said the government and local officials hadn’t done enough to help them in its aftermath.

Some have directed their ire at Prime Minister Theresa May, who met injured people in the hospital on Friday after coming under intense criticism for not meeting with residents during a private visit to the scene the previous day, blaming security concerns.

Write to Wiktor Szary at Wiktor.Szary@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/london-police-say-58-people-are-presumed-dead-from-fire-1497711407?mod=e2tweu

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