World Portugal's deadliest fire still rages after 62 people killed

18:06  19 june  2017
18:06  19 june  2017 Source:   Reuters

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PEDRÓGÃO GRANDE, Portugal — More than 1,000 firefighters on Monday battled a giant forest fire that swept through central Portugal at the weekend, killing at least 62 people . The country was in mourning after the deadliest such disaster in its recent history

More than 1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal ’ s deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed at least 62 people over the weekend. Two army battalions were helping the emergency services. Dozens of fire engines drove back and forth to fight the raging blaze in areas as far as

A firefighter works to put out a forest fire near the village of Fato© REUTERS/Rafael Marchante A firefighter works to put out a forest fire near the village of Fato More than 1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal's deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed at least 62 people over the weekend.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who on Sunday visited Pedrogao Grande, a mountainous area about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon, called it the biggest human tragedy in Portugal in living memory.

Welcome light rain that started on Monday morning brought only modest relief to the shocked population and exhausted firefighters. Water planes, including French and Spanish ones, resumed their missions after stopping overnight.

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GRANDE, Portugal (Reuters) - More than 1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal ' s deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed at least 62 people Dozens of fire engines drove back and forth to fight the raging blaze in areas as far as 20km north of Pedrogao Grande. In a sign of help Portugal

1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal ' s deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed Although the searing temperatures had dropped slightly on Monday, the fire was still raging Another 62 people were injured, with five in a critical state including a child and four firefighters .

"There is still a lot of forest that can burn and the rain does not make much difference," said Rui Barreto, deputy chief firefighter at the makeshift emergency services headquarters in Pedrogao Grande as thunder rolled through the skies over the ash-covered town.

Firefighters said the weather conditions were still adverse in most areas where the flames were raging. Two army battalions were helping the emergency services.

Dozens of fire engines drove back and forth to fight the raging blaze in areas as far as 20km north of Pedrogao Grande. In a sign of help Portugal is receiving from its European neighbors, four Spanish fire engines were seen driving off from the headquarters.

Aerial view of a forest fire is seen from the cabin of a Spanish fire fighting plane near Pedrogao Grande© REUTERS Aerial view of a forest fire is seen from the cabin of a Spanish fire fighting plane near Pedrogao Grande A man is attended by a Red Cross worker outside a relief centre for people affected by a forest fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos© REUTERS/Miguel Vidal A man is attended by a Red Cross worker outside a relief centre for people affected by a forest fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos

At least half the victims died in their cars as they tried to flee along a local motorway while many other bodies were found next to the road, suggesting they had probably abandoned their vehicles in panic.

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PEDRÓGÃO GRANDE, Portugal — More than 1,000 firefighters on Monday battled a giant forest fire that swept through central Portugal at the weekend, killing at least 62 people . The country was in mourning after the deadliest such disaster in its recent history

PEDROGAO GRANDE, Portugal More than 1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal ’ s deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed at least 62 people Dozens of fire engines drove back and forth to fight the raging blaze in areas as far as 20km north of Pedrogao Grande. In a sign of help Portugal

GOVERNMENT ASSURANCES

Despite government assurances that the first response by the emergency services was swift and adequate, many media and residents questioned the efficiency of the operation and the strategic planning in a country which is used to wooded areas burning every year.

"So what failed this Saturday? Everything, as it has failed for decades," read a headline in the daily Publico, which blamed a lack of coordination between services in charge of fire prevention and firefighting and poor forestry reserve planning.

Police said a lightning strike on a tree probably caused the blaze on Saturday in a region hit by an intense heat wave and dry, gusty winds, which fanned the flames.

A woman is attended by Red Cross workers outside a relief centre for people affected by a forest fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos© REUTERS/Miguel Vidal A woman is attended by Red Cross workers outside a relief centre for people affected by a forest fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos

The regional prosecutor still ordered a criminal investigation into the causes, which he said would be shelved if the police version of events is confirmed. Many forest fires in Portugal are caused by arson or carelessness.

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PEDROGAO GRANDE, Portugal (Reuters) - More than 1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal ’ s deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed dozens over the weekend, and a fireman died from his injuries in a hospital, bringing the death toll to at least 63. More than 70 people

More than 1,000 firefighters were still battling Portugal ’ s deadliest forest blaze on Monday after it killed at least 62 people over the weekend. Two army battalions were helping the emergency services. Dozens of fire engines drove back and forth to fight the raging blaze in areas as far as 15

Red Cross and other relief personnel are seen outside a relief centre for people affected by a forest fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos© REUTERS/Miguel Vidal Red Cross and other relief personnel are seen outside a relief centre for people affected by a forest fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos

A public petition circulating on the Internet demanding an investigation into possible failures by the authorities has gathered about 270 signatures.

Local residents said they had been without the support of firefighters for hours as their homes burned. Many blamed depopulation of villages that left wooded areas untended.

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