Friday, April 20, 2018 | ePaper

Portugal forest fires kill 58 near Coimbra

  • Print
BBC Online :
A catastrophic forest fire in Portugal has claimed at least 58 lives, officials say.
Most died while trying to flee the Pedrógão Grande area, 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Coimbra, in their cars, according to the government.
Several firefighters are among the 59 people injured.
"Unfortunately this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires," said Prime Minister Antonio Costa.  
The death toll could rise further, he said.
Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said 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.
Another 11 died in a village next to the motorway, Mr Gomes said.
Media in Portugal said the fire is no closer to being contained despite about 600 firefighters working to put it out.
Among the 59 injured was an eight-year-old girl with burns found wandering alone close to the fire, the Correio do Manhã newspaper reported.
Six firefighters are seriously wounded, national broadcaster RTP said, and two are reported missing.
The Correio do Manhã warned that many areas hit by the fire had not yet been reached by authorities, so the death toll was likely to increase.
About 60 forest fires broke out across the country overnight, with close to 1,700 firefighters battling them across Portugal.
The flames spread "with great violence" on four fronts near Pedrógão Grande, Mr Gomes said.
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.
It is not yet known what caused the fire, however Mr Costa said thunderstorms could have been one possible cause. Portugal has been experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures of more than 40C (104F) in some areas.
"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions," Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrógão Grande, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press agency.
"I am completely stunned by the number of deaths."
We have had large-scale fires before over the past couple of decades - this year is not unusual in that respect - but it is certainly unusual to have so many fatalities in one place. Portuguese officials are visibly shocked.
There were very particular circumstances with the lightning strikes here - this fire started with a dry lightning strike. There has been rainfall elsewhere but there was no rain there, and this is a heavily-forested area.
Getting it under control depends not only on temperatures, which do seem as though they will be high, but on the wind above all. It is very much in the hands of Mother Nature.

More News For this Category

DU to showcause 26 for 'harassing' Esha

Staff Reporter :In an unexpected turn of events the Dhaka University administration has decided to  issue show cause notices against 26 residential students of Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall for

Hasina is on the 2018 TIME 100 list

Jago News Desk :Three-time Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is on the list of  2018  TIME magazine world's most influential people published on Thursday.U.S president Donald Trump, Japanese Premier Shinzo

UK AL demands Tarique's extradition

bdnews24.com :A day after Sheikh Hasina said her government is trying to negotiate the extradition of Tarique Rahman, the UK chapter of the Awami League has demanded that the

Restricting ship movements in Sundarbans river routes urged

UNB, Dhaka :Speakers at a roundtable in the city have called for making the river routes in Sundarbans off limit for the ships carrying oil, chemical, coal and harmful

Man shot dead by 'robbers' in Sylhet

UNB, Sylhet :A man was shot to death allegedly by some robbers at Chotodesh village in Kanaighat upazila early Thursday.The deceased was identified as Ifzal Uddin, 45, son of

Assad steps up efforts to crush last besieged enclaves

Reuters, Beirut/Amman :The Syrian government stepped up its efforts on Thursday to retake the opposition's last besieged enclaves, as rebels prepared to withdraw from one and a newspaper reported

PM clears 13 urgent files from UK

UNB, London :Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is now in London to join the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), has cleared 13 urgent files digitally."Despite her busy

Editors' concern over proposals logical: Anisul

UNB, Dhaka :Describing the Editors' Council's concern over some sections of the proposed Digital Security Act as logical Law Minister Anisul Huq on Thursday assured that steps will be

2,000 Kachin trapped by Myanmar fighting lack food, medicine

2,000 Kachin trapped by Myanmar fighting lack food, medicine

AP, Bangkok :Community leaders from the Christian ethnic Kachin community have called for urgent medical attention for about 2,000 civilians, including pregnant women and the elderly, trapped in the

EC works for expats' rights to vote

Staff Reporter :Chief Election Commissioner K M Nurul Huda said, EC is working for the expatriates' rights to vote in the coming National Polls.  To ensure the immigrants' voting