June 18, 2017 / 2:45 AM / a month ago

Portugal forest fire kills at least 19 - government

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LISBON (Reuters) - A forest fire in central Portugal killed at least 19 people on Saturday, most of them occupants of various vehicles that were on the road and caught in the blaze, an official said in televised remarks.

The fire, which has yet to be controlled, is already one of the deadliest forest fires in Portugal in decades.

Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal affairs, said President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was en route to the site of the tragedy.

The blaze on Saturday hit the mountainous area of Pedrogao Grande, 200 km southeast of Lisbon, amid an intense heat wave and strong winds that fanned the fire later in the day.

"We have 19 confirmed deaths, all civilians," Gomes said, adding that 20 people have been injured, including six firefighters, and two people were still missing.

Reporting by Andrei Khalip, editing by G Crosse

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