Dozens killed in Portugal forest fires

Many people died inside their cars while trying to flee the blaze near Coimbra


A forest fire in central Portugal is still burning out of control after killing dozens of people on Saturday.

Most of them were inside their vehicles when they tried to flee the Pedrógão Grande area, 30 miles south-east of Coimbra, but were caught in the blaze.

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According to the BBC, at least 57 people have died and several firefighters are among 59 people injured.

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

The death toll could rise, he added.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said that 30 of the people who died were found inside their cars, while 17 were discovered next to their vehicles.

Local resident Isabel Brandao told the Associated Press: "Yesterday we saw the fire but thought it was very far. I never thought it would come to this side.

"At 3.30 am, my mother-in-law woke me up quickly and we never went to sleep again. We were afraid the fire would reach us."

Hundreds of firefighters and 160 vehicles were sent to tackle the blaze, which broke out on Saturday afternoon, the Guardian reports.

On Saturday night there were around 60 fires across Portugal as the Iberian Peninsula suffers a severe heatwave and temperatures over 40C in a number of regions.

Spain has dispatched two water-bombing planes to help the Portuguese fire service.