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Volunteers rally to help Portugal's fire victims

Volunteers rally to help Portugal's fire victims
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By Euronews
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Aid and volunteers rally round to help those caught up in the country's worst forest fire for decades

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Aid is pouring in to help the victims of a huge forst fire which has been raging in cental Portugal since Saturday.

The number of dead has risen to at least 62 people, most of whom died in their cars as they tried to flee the flames.

Volunteers are coming from all over the Pedrogao Grande region bringing supplies for people who have lost everything. “We are here receiving all kind of aid – food and water for the people who only managed to get out with their lives,” explained one volunteer.

The fire, which is still burning, has left more than 60 people dead in Central Portugal https://t.co/m9OVBlRhrB

— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 18, 2017

One psychiatric nurse is helping those who have been traumatised. He said he’s been providing psychological first-aid. … listening to people, trying to help, trying to offer advice.

Police say a lightning strike probably caused the blaze in a region hit by an intense heat wave. They also belive the death toll will rise as fire fighters reach remote villages. One man told of his narrow escape: “I went out completely in the middle of the flames, to get out of the house. I got my family out but Ive lost everything.”

The Portuguese government has declared three days of national mourning for what has been described as the greatest human tragedy seen in the country for decades. Alongside 62 confirmed dead, another 54 people have been injured and taken to hospitals. Four are in a serious condition.

More than 600 firefighters were still battling the flames on Sunday. Several local highways were shut for safety reasons.

The authorities said very low smoke clouds prevented helicopters and fire planes dropping water on the flames efficiently for most of the day.

Reporting for euronews, Filipa Soares said that no doubt the road on which many people lost their loves, their cars engulfed in the flames, will from now on be referred to as the “road of death”.

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