Dozens Killed in Portugal and Spain Wildfire Incident
By Faith Magbanua, October 17, 2017 01:10 AM
At least 27 people have died in a series of wildfires in Portugal this weekend, the country's civil protection service says.
In Spain's Galicia region, at least three people are dead.
According to a spokeswoman for the agency, she told reporters that the firefighters were still fighting a number of 145 separate fires.
"We can confirm the deaths of 27 people in the districts of Coimbra, Castelo Branco, Viseu and Guarda," AFP quoted Patricia Gaspar as saying.
However, more than 50 people have also been injured on the Portuguese side of the border while thousands of firefighters are battling the flames, which exploded across the north-eastern side of Portugal and parts of Spain over the weekend after a hot dry summer.
Furthermore, the conditions were worsened by Hurricane Ophelia, which is approaching Europe's western coast, bringing strong winds that caused to fan and spread the flames.
According to Galician leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo, he has claimed that the fires were deliberately set by arsonists, in what he called "terrorist acts".
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido also said that several people had already been identified in connection with the fires, and has appealed for anyone with further information to share it with the national protection service.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was travelling to Galicia, and expressed solidarity with the victims.
The wildfires follow an enormous forest blaze in Portugal in June, which killed 64 people and injured more than 130.
The deaths occurred in the central and northern regions of Coimbra, Castelo Branco, Aveiro and Viseu, according to Civil Protection and as of 10am on Monday, firefighters continued to battle 108 blazes, with 33 said to be of "extreme importance" due to their proximity to settlements.
Meanwhile, in Penacova, Coimbra district, two brothers reportedly died in a burning shed after they had decided to check on their beehives.
According to the newspaper Jornal de Notícias, a 19-year-old pregnant woman was killed on Portugal's A25 highway after her car was involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle being driven by a man who was speeding away from a blaze. He is reported to be one of around 15 people in serious or critical condition in hospitals around Portugal.
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