Published: Fri, June 23, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Vast Wildfire Kills 57 in Portugal

Vast Wildfire Kills 57 in Portugal

Pope Francis called for prayer on Sunday for the victims of wildfires which killed 62 people, including four children, in central Portugal this weekend.

"I am close to the dear people of Portugal, hit by a devastating fire which is raging in the forests around Pedrogao Grande, causing many victims and injuries", he said.

Guterres, in a statement issued on Sunday, condoled the Portuguese Government and people, saying he was "shocked and horrified" at the many lives claimed by the raging wildfires.

Four of the firefighters were in critical condition on June 18, Paulo Santos, an operations and emergencies official with the National Relief Operations Command in Lisbon, told CNN.

"It's still hard to identify what failed, but it's a bit of everything", said Xavier Viegas, an expert on forest fires in Portugal.

The blaze spread Saturday to Pedrogao Grande community, forcing residents to flee the area to escape towering flames. Reporting for euronews, Filipa Soares said that no doubt the road on which many people lost their loves, their cars engulfed in the flames, will from now on be referred to as the "road of death".

Firefightes work to put out a forest fire near the village of Fato, central Portugal on June 18, 2017.

The municipality's Mayor, Valdemar Alves, said there were areas "completely surrounded" by the blaze and not enough firefighters to battle the flames.

A vehicle is left burnt-out following the deadly fires. Authorities fear the number of victims can increase.

"Our pain is vast", said Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Numerous forest fire victims were found inside their cars or just next to their motor vehicles on a small section of road leading up to a motorway.

Once the scope of the fire was realized, emergency reinforcements were sent in by European Union officials, with police and military units joining Portuguese firefighters and a pair of Spanish planes in the effort to stop the inferno. "The EU is fully ready to help". Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, promised full support for the country during this tragic period. At least three villages near Pedrógão Grande were evacuated.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed his condolences on Twitter.

The two Britons who were injured in the fires also received treatment for smoke inhalation and have been discharged from hospital, according to The Portugal News.

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.

British citizen Daniel Starling walks among the debris of his burnt house in the village of Figueira, near Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, Monday, June 19 2017.

The fire appears to have been caused by dry lightning while strong winds and low humidity did the rest.

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