Two Britons treated for burns after Portuguese forest fires

Two Britons treated for burns after Portuguese forest fires

Two Britons treated for burns after Portuguese forest fires

Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 57 people, many of them dying because they were trapped in their cars when flames swept over a road. Prime Minister Antonio Costa warned that the number of victims could rise.

Portuguese officials say most of the 62 people who died in the forest fire north of Lisbon were trying to flee the inferno in their cars.

Numerous victims died as they tried to flee the fire northeast of Lisbon in their cars.

Three days of national mourning have been declared.

"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. As a result, Spain sent four firefighting aircraft on Sunday, France was sending three and Greece's prime minister also offered firefighting help.

Costa tweeted his "deepest regret for the victims. and a word of encouragement and strength for all who help combat this scourge".

Isabel Brandao told The Associated Press on Sunday that she had feared for her life when she saw the Pedrogao Grande blaze.

Gomes said that at least 30 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.

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

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A forest fire is seen near Tojeira, Pedrogao Grande, in central Portugal, June 18, 2017.

Portugal's civil protection agency, which coordinates the firefighting efforts, issued a warning of the increased risk for forest fires in Friday. "We were afraid the fire would reach us".

Speaking in the Vatican, Pope Francis, who visited Portugal last month, mentioned the victims in his weekly address. 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.

The death toll released by Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal affairs, has gradually climbed from the 19 initially announced late on Saturday.

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

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

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

The forest fires are the worst to have hit Portugal since 1966, when 25 soldiers died fighting several blazes.

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