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Portugal lowers forest fire death toll to 61
19 June 2017, 02:21 | Opal Carroll
Portugal in mourning as dozens killed in raging forest fires
A raging forest fire in central Portugal killed 62 people, many of whom were trapped in their cars as flames swept across a road in the country's worst tragedy in living memory.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa went to the scene, about 175 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of Lisbon, after midnight and said there was no lack of immediate response to face the blaze.
Mr Gomes said at least 30 of those killed were in vehicles engulfed by flames on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera.
Of the victims, 59 people were killed from flames or smoke inhalation and two more were killed in a road accident trying to flee the blaze, according the spokesperson Aicha El Hammar.
Gomes also said that eight firefighters were among the injured - four of them in serious condition.
"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we can not remember a tragedy of these proportions", said the municipality's mayor, Valdemar Alves, according to The AP.
Avelar resident Isabel Brandao has told The Associated Press that "the problem is that there was no rain".
Several parts of Portugal are scorching under a severe heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40 °C.
Portuguese National Republican Guard firefighters work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Avelar, central Portugal, at sunrise on June 18, 2017.
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Almost 900 firefighters and 300 vehicles were still battling the blaze yesterday afternoon as scenes of devastation could be seen around the town.
More than 50 people were injured, five critically, including one child and four firefighters.
Portuguese PM Antonio Costa says the death toll is likely to rise.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, attending the match in Russian Federation, also offered his condolences. It is an authentic inferno, we have never seen anything like that.
Portugal was hit by a series of fires previous year which devastated more than 1000 square kilometres of the mainland. EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides expressed his condolences for the victims in a statement, saying the "EU is fully ready to help".
Portugal's National Civil Protection Authority warned that high temperatures and potentially strong winds could aggravate the fire.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he is "overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande".
Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes has been quoted as giving the new figure on public broadcaster RTP.
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