The Portuguese government has declared three days of national mourning following what Prime Minister Antonio Costa has called “the greatest tragedy of human lives” witnessed in the country in years.
A forest fire raging in the mountainous, central Pedrogao Grande area since Saturday (June 17) has killed more than 60 people and wounded 59 – five of whom are in a serious condition.
According to Portugal’s Interior Minister, most of the victims were caught in their vehicles on the road.
A number of people are also said to be missing.
Over 20 villages have been affected by the inferno, which police say may have been caused by lightning striking a tree.
“My sister’s house burned down,” said one woman. “The police came looking for us because we could not breathe.”
It has deployed two army battalions to help some 400 firefighters to tackle the blaze. Help has also been offered from the EU, France and Spain.