Portugal declares day of mourning following devastating fires

Portugal declares day of mourning following devastating fires

Portugal was sweltering under a severe heatwave over the weekend, with temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in several regions. Most of those were burned to death. The forest industry, especially the production of paper pulp, accounts for around 3 percent of the country's GDP.

The association rebuked authorities for allowing the planting of huge swathes of eucalyptus, the country's most common and most profitable species - but one that's often blamed for stoking blazes.

A government study between 2003 and 2013 found most of the fires are started deliberately set or are due to negligence or accidents.

Despite government assurances that the first response by the emergency services was swift and adequate, many media and residents questioned the efficiency of the operation and the strategic planning in a country which is used to wooded areas burning every year. A dry thunderstorm is a storm that produces thunder and lightning, but most - or all - of its precipitation evaporates before reaching the ground.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa declared three days of national mourning, starting Sunday. Government officials said an assessment will be made of the cause.

In a tweet on Sunday, Mr Costa sent his "deepest regret for the victims... and a word of encouragement and strength for all who help combat this scourge".

The worldwide community has stepped in to help, with Spain, France and Italy sending water-bombing planes.

"We escaped in time, me on the tractor and he with our van", Luisilda said.

"All of this is so hard to understand", said Antonio, whose five family members had been housed in a packed old-age home with other evacuees.

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Osborne was taken into custody shortly after the attack when bystanders in the crowd restrained him until police arrived. Vehicles have also been also used to attack the public on London's Westminster Bridge , in Nice, France, and in Berlin.

"In Portugal, the main factor in the scale of wildfires is the unbroken stretches of forest", Paulo Fernandes, a forest researcher at Portugal's Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro University, told the AP. There are concerns strong winds could help spread the blaze further.

In 2015 and 2016, Portugal had some 50 firefighting aircraft at its disposal, a lot of them rented. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

More than 350 soldiers yesterday joined the 700 firefighters who have been struggling to put out the blaze.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says she will chair an emergency meeting Monday morning following a van crash which killed a man outside a mosque.

Starling told The Associated Press on Monday that he had to speed around trees that had fallen on the road and had to go off the road.

The fire remains active in four areas, two of them are considered out of control, according to the department. Others say the fires flared up so quickly because landowners hadn't obeyed the law and cleared their plots of undergrowth.

"Some people stayed. Now we're waiting to see".

Last year, Portugal was struck by a string of fires that damaged around 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) of land.

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