At least 62 killed in Portugal forest fire


Once the flames have been extinguished, however, there will no doubt be an investigation into why so many victims apparently died after finding themselves cut off, encircled by fire and stranded along roads they took while trying to flee by auto.

According to police, the fire, which began on Saturday at around 2 pm (1300 GMT), was triggered by a lightning strike.

Mr Gomes said at least 30 of those killed were in vehicles engulfed by flames on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera.

Gomes said eight firefighters were among the injured - four in serious condition.

Four firefighters and a child were described as "seriously hurt".

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

Villagers look at flames during a wildfire near the village of Mega Fundeira on Sunday. There are concerns strong winds could help spread the blaze further.

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"When I got to the village, I messaged my parents to tell them: 'I am in a village, fire is all around, this is the end, '" 36-year-old Gareth Roberts, who has lived in central Portugal for the past four years, told BBC news.

Maria do Céu Silva has been hailed as a hero after using her house's water tank to rescue the residents of Nodeirinho, next to the IC8 motorway, which was badly hit by the fire.

Green lobby groups say governments haven't done enough prevention work, such as implementing early annual forest-cleaning programs, clearing trees from around houses and roads, creating firebreaks in forests and forcing landowners to clean their properties of debris and waste that provides fuel for fires.

The prime minister said the death toll could rise as firefighters inspected charred remains of some buildings in remote villages. "We were afraid the fire would reach us". Portugal's political parties for the most part heeded a call by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to first deal with the emergency before discussing its circumstances. "The magnitude of this is on a completely different scale to what I have seen before".

"There are people who arrived saying they didn't want to die in their homes, which were surrounded by flames", Ansiao resident Ricardo Tristao told reporters.

In Kazan, Russia, Portugal's national soccer team wore black arm bands and stood for a moment of silence with the Mexican team in solidarity with the forest fire victims. France and Spain sent firefighting planes to help control the blaze. At least three villages near Pedrogao Grande were evacuated.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed sadness over the death of 62 people in the wildfires fires that hit the Pedrógão Grande region of Portugal in Sunday. People, bewildered, remains of homes burning uncontrollably, concrete posts exploding over roads.