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Portugal calls for help as firefighters battle forest fires in scorching summer heat

21/08/13 00:14 CET

Portugal has requested help from Spain and France as wildfires cut a swathe of destruction across central and northern areas of the country.

Lisbon’s interior ministry has asked for air support in the form of four firefighting Canadair planes.

Around 1,300 emergency personnel are on the ground battling more than 275 blazes thought to have been caused by soaring summer temperatures.

Houses have been destroyed leaving their owners distraught. One woman said her husband could not speak because he was so upset: “When we saw that everything around had been burnt, we just stayed inside the house and thought we would die,” she said.

The island of Madeira has also been struggling against fires – at the weekend a hospital had to be evacuated outside Funchal, the island’s capital.

According to Portugal’s Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF), nearly 31,000 hectares of forestland have gone up in smoke this year.

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