The Phuket News Premier League predictions The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

Raging Portugal forest fires kill dozens

PORTUGAL: Raging forest fires in central Portugal have killed at least 61 people, many burnt to death in their cars, the government said yesterday (June 18), in the country’s worst such disaster in recent history.

accidents, disasters, death, police, weather, transport,


AFP

Monday 19 June 2017, 10:05AM


Many people died in their cars in the forest fires sweeping central Portugal. Photo: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP
Many people died in their cars in the forest fires sweeping central Portugal. Photo: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP

Authorities declared three days of national mourning as more than 800 firefighters and 260 vehicles battled the blaze, which also left 62 people injured, amid scenes of devastation.

The fire erupted Saturday (June 17) in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal, apparently caused by a lightning strike, and spread furiously in several directions.

“The fire has reached a level of human tragedy that we have never seen before,” said a visibly moved Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who announced three days of mourning starting yesterday.

The death toll was cut from 62 to 61 after a counting error, “but we will certainly find other victims on the ground” in searches from village to village, said Costa.

“I am shocked and horrified by the many lives claimed by today’s devastating fires,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres yesterday.

“The United Nations stands ready to assist in any way possible,” he added.

The expanse of wooded hills in the area north of Lisbon, which 24 hours before had glowed bright green with eucalyptus plants and pine trees, was gutted by the flames.

A thick layer of white smoke hovered over either side of a motorway for about 20 kilometres, as blackened trees leaned listlessly over charred soil.

A burnt-out car sat outside partly destroyed and abandoned houses, while a few metres away police in face masks surrounded the corpse of a man hidden under a white sheet.

Police chief Almeida Rodrigues blamed dry thunderstorms for the blaze, ruling out arson, and saying a tree had been struck by lightning.

“Everything burnt very quickly given the strong winds. The flames passed within two or three kilometres of my house,” said local resident Isabel Ferreira, 62.

“I knew several of the victims. One of my colleagues lost her mother and her four-year-old girl as she could not get them out of the back of the car.”

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said 18 of those burned to death had been trapped in their cars engulfed by flames on the road between Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera.

“It is difficult to say if they were fleeing the flames or were taken by surprise,” he said.

Other bodies were found in houses in isolated areas. At least three villages near Pedrogao Grande were evacuated.

Luisilda Malheiro and her husband Eduardo Abreu, a couple of farmers, both 62, escaped the hellish route N-236.

“We escaped in time, me on the tractor and he with our van,” Luisilda said.

“Our house is still there but we lost everything else: the chickens, the rabbits and the ducks. We were only able to save two goats,” she said.

Earlier Costa said the injured included five people in critical condition as well as one child and four firefighters.

“The priority now is to save those people who could still be in danger,” said Costa.

The European Union said it would provide firefighting planes from France while Spain dispatched four water-bombing aircraft.

Portugal was sweltering under a severe heatwave over the weekend, with temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius in several regions.

More than 140 forest fires continued to burn across the country yesterday night, with around 2,000 firefighters battling to put them out.

“The fire is still raging on four fronts,” Gomes said, two spreading “violently”.

A number of villages were affected by the main fire and homes were evacuated, their owners sheltered in neighbouring areas.

Officials were not immediately able to comment on the extent of the damage.

Dozens of people who fled their homes were taken in by residents of the nearby municipality of Ansiao.

“There are people who arrived saying they didn’t want to die in their homes, which were surrounded by flames,” said Ansiao resident Ricardo Tristao.

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

Pope Francis offered his condolences in his Sunday prayers while EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker hailed the bravery of the firefighters.

Portugal was hit by a series of fires last year which devastated more than 1,000 square kilometres of the mainland.

Fires on the tourist island of Madeira in August killed three people, while across 2016 around 40 homes were destroyed and 5,400 hectares of land burned.

In 1966, a blaze in the forest of Sintra, west of Lisbon killed 25 soldiers trying to battle the flames.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:
    Forget your password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Phuket environment chief warns of poor hazardous waste disposal habits

Phuket/Thailand cannot manage it's regular waste, let alone identifying, collecting, separating and properly disposing of hazardous wastes. I wou...(Read More)


Phuket Governor says Japanese tourist bitten by barracuda not a shark

Oh brother...more stellar non-professional commentary from Phuket officials. I love the "police-type" hypothesis Mr Thatsaphol came up with....(Read More)


Phuket ‘bite’ frenzy spurs call for more protection against shark fishing

There is no enforcement for the protection of any marine life in Thai waters, it's a free for all unless you're a Korean tourist feeding bread...(Read More)


Phuket ‘bite’ frenzy spurs call for more protection against shark fishing

As a world wide diving scuba diver I can say by own experience that sharks always shy away when you 'meet' them. 'Incidents' with sha...(Read More)


City to reward people who dob in street offenders

It doesn't need to be a 'typical idiot' ( Jor12 words) to want to see police on every street corner. I often see police officers ( always...(Read More)


City to reward people who dob in street offenders

Jor 12, i guess you think lawlessness is a good idea then? Eagle, don't think it doesn't do you any good, you have no idea what i earn! 3 d...(Read More)


Phuket environment chief warns of poor hazardous waste disposal habits

Christy Sweet: You are right. It are all statements and dead end policy announcement, to justify a job, and a photo article in newspaper. Any given...(Read More)


City to reward people who dob in street offenders

malczx7r,as you are so eager to adopt it for Phuket,one might think you need it to increase your income !...(Read More)


Governor bans unsafe tour buses from Phuket, orders speed cameras for Patong Hill safety

Rorii2,I'm not surprised that you failed to understand.It was only an advice!...(Read More)


Governor bans unsafe tour buses from Phuket, orders speed cameras for Patong Hill safety

Eagle, historical facts make predicting the future easier, we all know not all predictions eventuate, but many in Thailand do, I fail to understand yo...(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
COLOURING BOOK
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.