The country was hit Saturday by a heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees in several regions …
The victims, mostly, been trapped in their cars. A forest fire that suddenly redoubled in intensity resulted, according to the latest reports, at least 61 dead and sixty injured Saturday in the region of Leiria , in central Portugal , the government said Sunday morning.
“Unfortunately, that’s probably the biggest tragedy we have experienced in recent years on the forehead of forest fires,” said, moved, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who visited the headquarters of Protection civil near Lisbon. Portugal has declared three days of national mourning.
— Meteos (@Meteos_) June 18, 2017
— bac ???? (@ftgobrienn) June 18, 2017
Nearly 600 firefighters mobilized
The fire broke out Saturday shortly before 3pm local time (4pm, French time) in the town of Pedrogao Grande, also located in the district of Leiria. Nearly 600 firefighters and 190 vehicles were still mobilized in the night from Saturday to Sunday to fight against the fire .
According to Secretary of State for the Interior, Jorge Gomes, at least 22 people were charred in their cars when they were trapped by the flames while they were traveling on the road from Figueiro dos Vinhos to Castanheira de Pera. Three others died of smoke inhalation. He reported 16 injured, including eleven civilians and five firefighters. Two of them were in serious condition.
French and Spanish reinforcements
Two Spanish Canadair arrived on the scene Sunday morning to support the Portuguese fire brigade. France has decided to route three aircraft specialized in extinguishing fires, which are expected in the afternoon.
“Solidarity with Portugal hit by a terrible fire. Thoughts for the victims. France shall help available to Portugal, “tweeted the French president Emmanuel Macron.
Solidarité avec le Portugal touché par un terrible incendie. Pensées pour les victimes. La France met son aide à la disposition du Portugal.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 18, 2017
— Ministère Intérieur (@Place_Beauvau) June 18, 2017
“My thoughts are with the victims in Portugal,” tweeted the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, adding that the European Civil Protection Mechanism was activated on demand from Lisbon to get help.
At the Vatican, following the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed his “closeness to the dear Portuguese people”