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Deadly forest fire kills 62

Reuters
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PEDROGAO GRANDE, Portugal - A huge forest fire raging since Saturday in central Portugal has killed 62 people so far, most of them dying in their cars as they tried to flee, the government said on Sunday,

"The dimension of this fire was such that we don't have memory of such a human tragedy," Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in Pedrogao Grande, the mountainous region about 200km (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

Most victims were caught in their vehicles on the road, while fleeing flames that were destroying their homes.

The PM said the death toll could rise as firefighters inspected charred remains of some buildings in remote villages.

Police said a lightning strike on a tree probably caused the blaze on Saturday in a region hit by an intense heat wave and dry, gusty winds, which has fanned the flames.

The PM said the emergency services acted as fast as they could but acknowledged that some of the efforts like alerting the population might have been hindered because the blaze had ruined phone lines and communications towers.

"What happened was cables and communications towers were destroyed by the fire, even their first replacements melted. But nothing compromised the firefighting efforts."

Most communications have been restored, but Mr Costa called on residents listen to the radio and heed any official advice.








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