Portugal's forest fires contained as death toll rises

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-17 21:23:41|Editor: ying
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LISBON, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) raised the death toll from the weekend forest fires to 37 on Tuesday, with the number of injured climbing to 71, 15 of them in serious condition.

In a more positive development, six of seven missing people have been found alive and all fires are now deemed to be under control.

Overnight rain in most parts of Portugal assisted firefighters in their efforts and by Tuesday early morning all fires were said to be waning.

Patricia Gaspar, spokeswoman of the ANPC, said that by midday Tuesday 24 fires remained active, but all were contained. All major roads have been reopened.

Some 523 wild fires flared up on Sunday in Portugal, with the majority and worst of them located in the north and center of the country.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System, 64,000 hectares burned, pushing the country's total area ravaged by wild fires in 2017 to 316,000 hectares, the highest in Europe and the largest in Portugal in 10 years.

After visiting victims of the fires in a hospital in Coimbra on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Antonio Costa hailed the work of the emergency services.

Costa addressed the nation on Monday night, saying that "after this year, nothing will ever be the same again." He went on to state that recommendations from the Pedrogao Grande fire inquest would be implemented as a matter of urgency.

In June, 64 people perished in a conflagration in the Pedrogao Grande area of central Portugal. The inquest into that tragedy was published last Thursday and was critical of the forest fire defense system, management of the crisis and the actions of the population at large.

The government has also declared three days of national mourning starting from Tuesday and all Portuguese football matches will feature one minute's silence.