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Portugal forest fires death toll rises to 43

Grim discovery made near hospital in Coimbra with bulk of blazes now under control

Image Credit: AP
A volunteer uses a water hose to fight a wild fire raging near houses in the outskirts of Obidos, Portugal, in the early hours of Monday, Oct. 16 2017.

Lisbon: The death toll from forest fires, which ravaged swathes of land in central Portugal in recent days, has risen to 43 after the discovery of another corpse, authorities said Thursday.

The latest grim discovery was made near a hospital in the central city of Coimbra, which was badly hit by the fires which broke out on Sunday and were largely controlled on Tuesday, with the help of rain and calmer winds.

“The toll has been revised upwards, we currently have 43 dead,” said Jorge Dias, spokesman for the country’s civil protection agency.

It was the second time Portugal has been hit by deadly forest fires in four months.

In June, 64 people died in the central Pedrogao Grande region, in what were the deadliest wildfires in the country’s history.

On Wednesday, interior minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa resigned over the government’s handling of the problem.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) some 280,000 hectares of Portuguese land have already gone up in smoke this month.

Another four people have been killed in forest fires in northern Spain.

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