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PM Narendra Modi condoles loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal

18 June 2017

A massive forest fire in central Portugal has killed more than 60 people, many trapped in their cars while trying to escape the flames, and injured dozens more, officials said.

The fire broke out shortly before 3pm local time in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande in Leiria district.

Portugal's prime minister says the death toll has been lowered in the country's deadly forest fire to 61.

The flames spread "with great violence" on four fronts, Mr Gomes said.

Nearly 60 people, including several children, have also been injured as temperatures topped 40C yesterday and making it one of the nation's deadliest fire tragedies.

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"We are most likely facing the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known", he said.

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

"Shocked and horrified" at the many lives claimed by the devastating fires that hit the Pedrógão Grande region of Portugal, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today expressed his deep sadness and condolences to the Portuguese Government and people.

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".

More than 600 firefighters were still battling the flames on Sunday.

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Spain has sent two water-bombing planes to help their neighbour fight the fires.

Mariano Rajoy has tweeted that he is "overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande".

Pope Francis led thousands of people in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of the fire.

"Many cars could not get out and people burned to death inside their cars", Portuguese Interior Minister Jorge Gomes told CNN affiliate TVI.

Authorities said the number of victims may rise as firefighters inspect the villages affected.

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PM Narendra Modi condoles loss of lives in forest fires in Portugal