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Massive Portugal forest fire kills 57

June 18, 2017 15:30 IST

At least 57 people are now known to have died and 59 people are injured in the devastating forest fire in Portugal.

IMAGE: The forest fire is seen near Tojeira, Pedrogao Grande, in central Portugal. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

At least 18 people died in their cars when the fire took them by surprise.

It is possibly the deadliest-ever single forest blaze in Portugal.

IMAGE: The blaze is being called possibly the deadliest-ever single forest blaze in Portugal.
Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Teams of psychologists have been deployed to care for survivors, who are 'in shock' and have lost relatives.

Police said lightning was to blame for the increasing death toll.

Policia Judiciaria Nacional director Almeida Rodrigues ruled out arson.

IMAGE: A policeman stands near a victim of a forest fire on the IC8 motorway near Pedrogao Grande, in central Portugal. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

He said: “The PJ, together with the GNR police force, have managed to establish the origin of the fire and it's all clearly pointing towards natural causes.

“We’ve even found a tree that was struck by lightning. We’ve managed to determine that the fire was caused by thunderstorms.”

IMAGE: Smoke is seen on the IC8 motorway during a forest fire near Pedrogao Grande
Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

The death toll is expected to rise further during the day as ‘many’ people were said to be still missing.

Several roads of Pedrógão Grande have been cut off as firemen still battle the blaze on four different fronts, fanned by the heat and wind.

The blaze has been described as ‘almost impossible to control’ and emergency services have spoken of a ‘horrible scenario’.

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