Rain, winds help tame wildfires in Spain, Portugal

2017-10-17 20:13
A Spanish forensic expert inspects a car where two women died after being consumed by fire in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia. (Lalo R Villar, AP)

A Spanish forensic expert inspects a car where two women died after being consumed by fire in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia. (Lalo R Villar, AP)

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Lisbon - Rain and winds have helped firefighters tame wildfires that devoured homes and people in their cars, leaving 41 dead in Portugal with four also killed in blazes in northern Spain.

Portugal's civil protection agency said on Tuesday that the 15 biggest fires had been brought under control, adding that seven people were still missing as the country began three days of national mourning for the victims.

Homes consumed

The deaths, which included a one-month-old baby, came four months after 64 people were killed in the deadliest fire in the country's history in June.

"We went through absolute hell, it was horrible. There was fire everywhere," said a resident of the town of Penacova.

In a village in the commune of Vouzela, in the northern district of Viseu, people used water hoses to try to fight the flames as several homes were consumed.

The blazes, which broke out over the weekend, were blamed on arsonists and fanned by Hurricane Ophelia.

Lisbon declared a state of emergency in areas north of the Tagus river which effectively slices the country in half.

Abandoned cars

The civil protection agency said that about 50 teams and more than 5 000 firefighters remained deployed and that a red alert in place since Sunday would remain in place.

Rail services resumed on Tuesday in the country's north after being suspended on Sunday.

Fallen electricity pylons and abandoned cars were left lying in roads.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa reaffirmed his pledges to prevent new tragedies by carrying out "fundamental reforms" in forest management and firefighting.

"After this year, nothing should remain as it was before," he said.

Read more on:    spain  |  portugal  |  natural disasters

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