Portugal awaits foreign help to fight deadly wildfires

Portugal awaits foreign help to fight deadly wildfires

Another 54 people have been injured and taken to hospitals, including four in serious condition.

The list of casualties may grow further as hundreds of people are still missing. Firefighters did "all they could" when faced with the blaze, he added.

About 400 fire engines and 18 aircraft are being used to tackle the fire.

Other bodies were found in houses in isolated areas.

On Monday, crews were still struggling to tame the deadly blaze in central Portugal, even as more than 2,000 firefighters battled separate fires around the country amid strong winds and scorching temperatures.

"There are people who arrived saying they didn't want to die in their homes, which were surrounded by flames", said Ansiao resident Ricardo Tristao.

"We express our condolences to those that have lost loved ones", he said. I just started crying and got emotional - I was no use to anyone for 20 minutes. I saw neighbours running from their cars that were burning.

They stopped when they came to a policeman at a junction. He said that "it was not possible to do more than what has been done" in prevention and responding to the fire. Miraculously, our house and the one next door did not burn.

There was speculation a "dry thunderstorm" caused the wildfire in central Portugal, according to Portuguese media. The ministry would not release the person's name out of respect for the family.

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"It is a time of pain but also. a time to carry on the fight" against the flames, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told the nation in a televised address on Sunday evening.

In 1966, a blaze in the forest of Sintra, west of Lisbon killed 25 soldiers trying to battle the flames.

Statistics show that 35 percent of Portugal is covered by woodland. Xavier Viegas, a wildfire expert at Portugal's Coimbra University, says Portugal needs a longer-term strategy.

They have sent two army battalions to help the emergency services. Most of those killed burned to death in their cars, the government said on June 18, after the flames swept over the road faster than they could escape.

Interior Minister Jorge Gomes has been quoted as giving the new figure on public broadcaster RTP.

However, some of the wildfires are still racing through inaccessible parts of hill ranges about 150 kilometers northeast of Lisbon. That is where the aircraft are needed. The firefighter who died on Monday had been helping people out of their cars when he was badly burned.

The municipality's president, Valdemar Alves, was stunned by the violent wildfire that left many people dead.

Portugal's leading environmental lobby group, Quercus, blamed the blazes on "forest management errors and bad political decisions" by governments over recent decades.

He also warned that the death toll could still increase. The government has acknowledged that the huge fires occasionally led to a breakdown in communications.

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