Tuesday, October 17, 2017 | 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

Recording of depositions begins

Court Correspondent :A court here on Monday started recording depositions of witnesses against five accused, including Shafat Ahmed, in a case filed for raping two private university girls in

BD steps up security at India border over Rohingya fears

AFP :Bangladesh has tightened security along its western border with India amid concern that hundreds of Rohingya Muslim refugees could be pushed into its territory, officials said on Sunday.Patrols

Allegations against Sinha 'cooked up to contain him': BNP

UNB, Dhaka :BNP on Monday alleged that the government is making an 'imaginary story' bringing various allegations against Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha only to contain him."The allegations brought

Sewerage waters being logged at city's Dholaiparh area for months together due to poor drainage management causing immense sufferings to commuters and pedestrians as well. This photo was taken on Monday.

Sewerage waters being logged at city's Dholaiparh area for months together due to poor drainage management causing immense sufferings to commuters and pedestrians as well. This photo was taken on Monday.

.

Couple fell sick on moving bus dies at DMCH

Staff Reporter :An elderly couple, who fell sick while travelling by a bus from Noakhali to Dhaka, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on Sunday night.The deceased were identified

US prefers diplomacy with N Korea

AP, Washington :Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the North Korean crisis "will continue until the first bomb drops."That statement comes despite President Donald

Verdict Oct 29

Court Correspondent :Verdict in the case filed on the charge of attempt to kill incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to be delivered on October 29.On completion of

Rupa murder case shifted to tribunal

Rupa murder case shifted to tribunal

UNB, Tangail :The case filed over the murder of Zakia Sultana Rupa, a law student and multinational company employee, after gang rape in a running bus was shifted to

Govt urged to reduce prices of essentials

UNB, Dhaka :Speakers at a discussion here on Monday urged the government to take immediate steps for bringing down the prices of essentials including rice, flour, pulses and oil,

Surcharge Management Policy to control tobacco okayed

Staff Reporter :The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the 'Health Development Surcharge Management Policy-2017', aiming to control tobacco use, prevent non-communicable diseases as well as create mass