Portugal’s Prime Minister calls forest fire “the biggest tragedy of human life in years”

Raging forest fires in the central region of Portugal have killed at least 61 people and the death toll could climb. Today, Prime Minister António Costa has called it “the biggest tragedy of human life in years.”

Nearly 60 others are injured, including four firefighters. Prime Minister Costa said police and coroners were working to identify the victims after the tragedy and also declared three days of national mourning.

A lightning strike is believed to have sparked the blaze after investigators found a tree that was hit during a dry thunderstorm.

Dry thunderstorms are frequent when falling water evaporates before reaching the ground because of high temperatures.

The government said most of the victims died in their cars as they tried to flee the area while doing everything they could to avoid the blaze.

Dozens of burned out cars still line the roadside.


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