Portugal forest fire death toll rises to 39

Portugal forest fire death toll rises to 39”

Another 59 people have been injured and taken to hospitals, including five in serious condition.

Portugal's national soccer team is wearing black arm bands and has stood for a moment of silence with the Mexican team in solidarity with the country's forest fire victims. It has been over 50 years since 25 Portuguese soldiers perished fighting wildfires in 1966.

Greece experienced its deadliest fires a decade ago.

Three others died from smoke inhalation. No information has yet been given on how the others were killed.

In one village of Nodeirinho, where 11 residents have died, state television RTP showed burned out cars and blackened houses.

Almost 60 other people have been injured, including four firefighters, in what Prime Minister Antonio Costa described as "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years".

Portugal's civil protection agency, which coordinates firefighting efforts, issued a warning of the increased risk for forest fires in Friday. Some 600 firefighters were trying to put out the fires, which started Saturday.

"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we can not remember a tragedy of these proportions", said the municipality's mayor, Valdemar Alves, according to The AP.

Juncker wrote in the letter that "Our thoughts are with all the victims, their families and all the courageous soldiers of peace that in a very hard terrain and under challenging circumstances continue to fight this bad fire".

Spain has sent two water-bombing planes to help tackle the fires.

Many world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have expressed solidarity with Portugal. He referred to the "devastating fire" at the end of his Sunday prayer, delivered from his studio window overlooking St Peter's Square in the Vatican.

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The loss of life due to a forest fire was the biggest in memory in Portugal.

Portugal's team is in Russian Federation, where it is set to start the Confederations Cup later on Sunday against Mexico.

"We express our condolences to those that have lost loved ones", the European Commission, executive arm of the European Union, said in a statement Sunday. In addition, Spain has also sent aircraft on a bilateral basis. "All will be done to assist the authorities and people of Portugal at this time of need".

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he is "overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande".

President Marcelo Rebelo went to the Leiria region to meet families of the victims, "sharing their pain in the name of all the Portuguese people", he said.

Pedrogao Grande is about 120 miles north of Lisbon. Local resident Isabel Brandao told The Associated Press that she had feared for her life. "If it had rained, this would not happen". "I never thought it would come to this side", she said. "We were afraid the fire would reach us".

"Unfortunately, this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires", a visibly moved Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

Many victims were killed when their cars were engulfed by flames as they swept across a country road.

The death toll could rise further, he said.

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

A lightning strike is believed to have sparked the initial blaze in the Pedrogao Grande area after investigators found a tree that was hit during a "dry thunderstorm".

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