Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday took to Twitter and condoled the loss of lives following the forest fires in Portugal on Saturday. He wrote: “Sad to learn of tragic loss of lives in the forest fire in Portugal. Deepest condolences to the Portugese people on this tragedy.” As many as 60 forest fires broke out last night across Portugal killing at least 57 people and injuring another 59. Most of the victims who were present in their vehicles were burnt in the mishap. PM Modi is scheduled to visit the European country on June 24.
Soon after the incident took place, nearly 600 firefighters and 160 vehicles were sent to to tackle the blaze, which broke out in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande which is about 50 kilometres from Coimbra. The fire later started spreading fast across several fronts. Expressing his grief over the incident, Portuguese 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 number of fatalities could still rise.”
“The priority now is to save those people who could still be in danger, Costa added while speaking at the Civil Protection headquarters near Lisbon. As per a report by AP, the European Union (EU) said that it would provide firefighting planes following a request from Lisbon. The AP report also stated that the country was sweltering with sharp heatwaves on Saturday with noted temperature of over 40 degrees in various regions.
Various villages around the vicinity were affected by the main fire and evacuation procedures had been put in place for some of them.
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Even last year, the country was hit by a series of fires which destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of the mainland, the report added further. The fires on the tourist island of Madeira in August 2016 cost lives of three people, while throughout the year as many as 40 homes were destroyed and 5,400 hectares of land was burnt.