A string of wildfires have hit areas in central and northern Portugal, leaving at least 31 people dead and some still missing. Spain was also hit by wildfires, which left at least two people dead, and Spain’s Prime Minister claims that the wildfires were started deliberately.
What seemed like a normal day in Portugal turned into a day of sorrow and death, as walls of flames spread across the country, killing dozens, including a one-month-old baby. The deaths in Portugal occurred in the Coimbra, Guarda, Castelo Branca, and Viuseu areas, and 50 people have been injured, with 15 reported to be in a serious condition. In Spain, the wildfires happened in the Galicia region, where three people died.
A state of emergency has been declared in the area north of the Tagus river in Portugal, and over 6,000 firefighters and 1,800 vehicles were deployed by Monday morning. Schools and roads were also closed in some places.
A resident of Penacova, near Coimbra, talked about his experience to Portuguese RTP radio and TV: “We went through absolute hell,” he said. “It was horrible. There was fire everywhere.”
There has been controversy surrounding the cause of the wildfires, with the Spanish Prime Minister having said that the fires were started deliberately, while the Galician leader, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, described the incident as “terrorist acts”. According to Spain’s Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, several people have already been identified in connection with the deadly blazes, and more appeals are being made for people with further information to come forward.
As of this morning, three days of national mourning for the victims of the wildfires have been declared.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by the wildfires, please call our 24-hr helpline on 020 7686 6000 for more support.