62 dead in central Portugal wildfires; many killed in cars

A man stands on the roadside watching a wildfire at Anciao Leiria in central Portugal

Coach Fernando Santos, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the players released a statement saying "in this sad hour, we send our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the fires".

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, attending the match in Russian Federation, also offered his condolences. He said authorities were anxious about strong winds that could help spread the blaze further. "There are no words for that". "The priority now is to save those people who could still be in danger".

A lightning strike is believed to have started the blaze in Pedrógao Grande, a rural area about 150 kilometres northeast of Lisbon. He said there was no information on the other two deaths.

So far, no one has been reported killed by the fire inside a house.

"We have 19 confirmed deaths, all civilians", Gomes said, adding that 20 people have been injured, including six firefighters, and two people were still missing. The country is also now experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Portugal has declared three days of national morning as the forest fire death toll has reached 62.

More than 350 soldiers on Sunday joined the 700 firefighters who have been struggling to put out the blaze, schools in the area were closed until further notice and outdoor fires were banned.

Portuguese National Republican Guard firefighters work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Avelar, Portugal, on June 18.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday expressed sadness over the loss of lives in a forest fire in Portugal.

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We have had large-scale fires before over the past couple of decades - this year is not unusual in that respect - but it is certainly unusual to have so many fatalities in one place.

Though the Times reports 900 firefighters were working to combat the Pedrógão Grande fire as of noon on Sunday, the fire is still "no closer to being contained", according to Portuguese media outlets cited by the BBC. The European Union has also promised to provide firefighting aircraft. He referred to the "devastating fire" at the end of his Sunday prayer, delivered from his studio window overlooking St Peter's Square in the Vatican.

The crowd fell silent and Francis bowed his head to recall the "many victims" of the blaze. "The EU is fully ready to help". As a result, Spain sent four firefighting aircraft on Sunday, France was sending three and Greece's prime minister also offered firefighting help.

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

"Many cars could not get out, and people burned to death inside their cars", Jorge Gomes, the Portuguese secretary of state for the interior, told CNN affiliate TVI.

Emergency service workers were battling 156 fires across the country on Sunday, Prime Minister Costa said, adding that most of the victims had died in just one of them. A number of people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as the flames swept over a road Saturday evening.

A huge forest fire raging since Saturday in central Portugal has killed at least 62 people, the government said on Sunday, in what is possibly the deadliest-ever forest blaze in the Atlantic coastal country, used to the woods burning nearly every summer.

Local resident Isabel Brandao told The Associated Press that she had feared for her life.

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