Death toll in Portugal forest fires rises to 62; PM Modi expresses grief at loss of life

Raging forest fires in central Portugal have killed at least 62 people, most of whom burnt to death in their cars, and injured scores of others. The government said that nearly 600 firefighters and 160 vehicles were dispatched late yesterday to tackle the blaze, which broke out in the afternoon in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande, about 50 kilometres from Coimbra, before spreading fast across several fronts.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said, this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires. The number of fatalities could still rise, he said at the Civil Protection headquarters near Lisbon. The European Union said it would provide firefighting planes following a request from Lisbon.

Portugal was sweltering under a severe heatwave across the weekend, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in several regions.

Some 60 forest fires broke out across the country during the night, with around 1,700 firefighters battling to put them out.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief on the loss of lives in the forest fire in Portugal. In a tweet, Mr Modi said, he is sad to learn about the tragic incident. He also offered his condolences to the Portuguese people.