Portugal in mourning as dozens killed in raging forest fires

Raging forest fires in Portugal have killed at least 62 people, most of whom burnt to death in their cars, the government said Sunday, in one of the worst such disasters in recent history.

"What we are seeing is a great tragedy", Costa said. He said authorities were anxious about strong winds that could help spreading the blaze further.

It happened in Pedrogao Grande - a mountainous region in the centre of the country, around 150 kilometres northeast of Lisbon.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, attending the match in Russian Federation, also offered his condolences.

The Portuguese government said numerous victims died in their vehicles as flames swept over a road between two towns in Pedrogao Grande.

At least three of the victims died from smoke inhalation inside the town while 16 others died trapped in their cars.

"We want to send a big hug to everyone in Portugal for what they are going through, which is absolutely awful. We have provided support to a number of British people caught up in the incident and stand ready to support any others who may be affected".

At least 19 people have died in a wildfire in central Portugal on Saturday, a lot of them trapped in their cars by flames as treacherous wind drove the blaze beyond firefighters' control.

Costa tweeted his "deepest regret for the victims. and a word of encouragement and strength for all who help combat this scourge". Spain and France are both sending several firefighting aircraft.

"Overwhelmed by the tragedy of Pedrogao Grande".

On Friday, Portugal's National Authority for Public Safety issued wildfire alerts because of high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds.

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

Pope Francis offered his condolences in his Sunday prayers while EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker hailed the bravery of the firefighters.

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

A Portuguese interior ministry official says that the death toll in the forest fires raging in central Portugal has increased to 39. It has been over 50 years since 25 Portuguese soldiers perished fighting wildfires in 1966.

  • Leroy Wright