Portugal awaits foreign help to fight deadly wildfires

Two Britons treated for burns after Portuguese forest fires

"Unfortunately, this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires", said a visibly moved Prime Minister Antonio Costa. Government officials say many of victims died in their cars when flames swept over a road.

The fire broke out in the Pedrogao Grande area, a municipality about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of the capital Lisbon. The fire, which is still burning, has left more than 60 people dead in Central Portugal https://t.co/m9OVBlRhrB- The New York Times (@nytimes) June 18, 2017 One psychiatric nurse is helping those who have been traumatised.

"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we can not remember a tragedy of these proportions", said Valdemar Alves, mayor of Pedrogao Grande.

Gomes also said that eight firefighters were among the injured - four of them in serious condition.

The blaze on Saturday hit the mountainous area of Pedrogao Grande, 200km northheast of Lisbon, amid an intense heat wave and rainless thunderstorms.

"We express our condolences to those that have lost loved ones", Christos Stylianides of the European Commission said in a statement.

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The fire was still not contained on Sunday evening, with one of the four fronts remaining a threat.

"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we can not remember a tragedy of these proportions", said Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrogao Grande. "We pray in silence", the Pope said.

The prime minister said the emergency services acted as fast as they could but acknowledged that some of the efforts like alerting the population might have been hindered because the blaze had ruined phone lines and communications towers. "I am shocked with this death toll".

According to the prime minister, just 11 fires are still active but he said the authorities were "particularly anxious about two of them". Last August, an outbreak of fires across Portugal killed four people, including three on the island of Madeira, and destroyed huge areas of forest. "That's the only thing I can say".

More than 1,000 firefighters are tackling the wildfires around the town of Pedrogao Grande, where 62 people died Saturday night. France also sent three aircraft and Greece's prime minister had made the offer to send his country's firefighters to the region.

The fire, which Prime Minister Antonio Costa called, "a dimension of human tragedy that we can not remember", started Saturday and was still burning as of Sunday afternoon, requiring the attention of around 1,600 firefighters over the weekend.

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