As Portugal faces its worst drought in six decades, forest fires throughout the north and the centre of the country remain out of control. European neighbours have responded to Lisbon’s calls for help and have dispatched fire-fighting aircraft. Spain and France have both sent two water-dropping planes, Italy one, and Germany three Puma helicopters. A further two helicopters have come over from the Netherlands.
More than 130,000 hectares have already been destroyed so far this year. At least 13 people have been killed including 10 firefighters. Central and northern Portugal have been worst affected. Several villages have been evacuated. The most serious fire at the weekend was in the Coimbra district north of Lisbon, where the patients and staff of a psychiatric hospital had to be moved.
Hot weather and wind have only made the situation worse. Many angry Portuguese are asking why the government did not react earlier. It has asked employers to release volunteer firemen to help bring the situation under control.