Dozens Killed in Portugal and Spain Wildfire Incident

Violet Powell
October 17, 2017

A one-month-old baby is among at least 36 people confirmed dead in Portugal and Spain after parts of both countries were ravaged by hundreds of wildfires.

"There are still places where security services have not yet managed to reach", civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar said, adding that the toll remained preliminary for that reason.

Civil Protection Agency officials said 145 blazes were still going on Monday as a state of emergency was declared in all regions north of the Tagus river, an area roughly half of the entire country. More than 6,000 firefighters in 1,800 vehicles were deployed by early Monday morning.

The situation was still "critical" because of unseasonably high temperatures.

Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spain's interior minister, said in a tweet that several people had already been identified in connection with the fires.

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.

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Five wildfires were raging near Vigo, Galicia's biggest city, forcing authorities to close schools, roads and factories and shelter people forced to leave their homes in sports centres and hotels.

Caption: People push a van that got stuck bringing water for volunteers to fight a wild fire raging near houses in the outskirts of Obidos, Portugal, in the early hours of on October 16.

"We went through absolute hell, it was frightful". There was fire everywhere, ' a Penacova resident told RTP television.

The high number of focal points to the fires (up to 150 over 48 hours in Galicia) implies the majority of the fires were started deliberately with the regional President Alberto Nunez Feijoo saying on Sunday the "fires are bordering on homicidal", and the Rural Environment Council talking of "clear intent", behind the numerous blazes.

Two brothers in their 40s who were trying to put out the blaze there were among the fatalities.

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