Portugal declares three days of mourning over deadly forest blaze

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 20, 2017

Firefighters were also continuing a grim search for bodies, with Costa warning on Sunday that the death toll could still rise.

More than 1,000 firefighters today battled a giant forest fire that swept through central Portugal at the weekend, killing at least 62 people.

Maria do Ceu, a 52-year-old housewife, her husband, 68, formerly in the merchant navy, and their two daughters aged in their 30s told AFP of their "indescribable" fear.

Her 81-year-old father also survived thanks to hiding in the tank.

His grandmother had rushed from Lisbon to try to find him but the bodies of Rodrigo and his uncle were found burnt beside a auto, caught by the flames as they tried to flee. Strong winds together with temperatures above 40 degrees on Saturday caused the fire to spread rapidly, hindering the work of firefighters.

"With the help of my son we managed to take her here". Another 17 bodies were found along the side of other roads while 10 more were recovered in the rural areas surrounding these roads.

Questions have been raised in Portugal as to whether a deadly fire still raging as of Monday evening could have been prevented or at least made less deadly.

Portuguese media have dubbed the N-236 the "road of death". A survivor spoke of the roads being blocked and of no-one coming to their aid. "Nobody came. They were up in the mountain or somewhere else", she said.

Maria de Fátima Nunes and her husband were driving on the motorway when their vehicle was hit by the fire.

"The fire didn't spread by the ground, it spread through the air at the height of the trees".

President Trần Đại Quang on Monday sent a message of condolences to his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa over the human and property losses caused by forest fires in central Portugal.

Another 62 people were injured, with five in a critical state including a child and four firefighters. There was some rain on Monday and temperatures dropped slightly, but the situation was described by civil protection officials as worrying.

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