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57 dead in central Portugal forest fires

At least 57 people have died and 59 injured in a catastrophic forest fire in Portugal BBC reports. About 60 forest fires broke out acros...

At least 57 people have died and 59 injured in a catastrophic forest fire in Portugal BBC reports.

About 60 forest fires broke out across the country overnight, with close to 1,700 firefighters battling them across Portugal.

Several firefighters are among the 59 people injured.

Media in Portugal said the fire is no closer to being contained despite about 600 firefighters working to put them out.

According to BBC the death toll could rise further.
The government said most people died while trying to flee the Pedrógão Grande area, 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Coimbra, in their cars.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes told BBC that 30 of those who died were found inside cars, with another 17 next to the vehicles, on one road leading on to the IC8 motorway.

The flames spread "with great violence" on four fronts near Pedrógão Grande, Mr Gomes added.
"Unfortunately this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires," BBC quoted Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

It is not yet known what caused the fire, however Prime Minister Costa told BBC thunderstorms could have been one possible cause.

Spain has sent two water-bombing planes to help tackle the fires, and the European Union is co-ordinating an international firefighting and relief effort.

Source of images: BBC

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