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A catastrophic forest fire in Portugal has claimed at least 58 lives, officials say.

Most died while trying to flee the Pedrógão Grande area, 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Coimbra, in their cars, according to the government.

Several firefighters are among the 59 people injured.

"Unfortunately this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires," said Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

The death toll could rise further, he said.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said that 30 of those who died were found inside cars, with another 17 next to the vehicles, on one road leading on to the IC8 motorway.

Another 11 died in a village next to the motorway, Mr Gomes said.

Media in Portugal said the fire is no closer to being contained despite about 600 firefighters working to put it out.

Among the 59 injured was an eight-year-old girl with burns found wandering alone close to the fire, the Correio do Manhã newspaper reported.

Six firefighters are seriously wounded, national broadcaster RTP said, and two are reported missing.

The Correio do Manhã warned that many areas hit by the fire had not yet been reached by authorities, so the death toll was likely to increase.

About 60 forest fires broke out across the country overnight, with close to 1,700 firefighters battling them across Portugal.

The flames spread "with great violence" on four fronts near Pedrógão Grande, Mr Gomes said.

Spain has sent two water-bombing planes to help tackle the fires, and the European Union is co-ordinating an international firefighting and relief effort.

It is not yet known what caused the fire, however Mr Costa said thunderstorms could have been one possible cause.

Portugal has been experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures of more than 40C (104F) in some areas.

"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions," Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrógão Grande, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press agency.

"I am completely stunned by the number of deaths."

We have had large-scale fires before over the past couple of decades - this year is not unusual in that respect - but it is certainly unusual to have so many fatalities in one place. Portuguese officials are visibly shocked.

There were very particular circumstances with the lightning strikes here - this fire started with a dry lightning strike. There has been rainfall elsewhere but there was no rain there, and this is a heavily-forested area.

Getting it under control depends not only on temperatures, which do seem as though they will be high, but on the wind above all. It is very much in the hands of Mother Nature.

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3 minutes ago, Seydou said:

Is it me or is there just more catastrophe all over the world

Or is shit reported way more?

I LITERALLY just asked myself the same thing!!

I saw the topic title n my first thought was "FFS whats happened now!!"

We've had reasonable news links/connections a while now, so I think we are currently in a period of constant shitstorms, possibly a modernised flooding of the earth to cleanse it of the vile species called the human race??

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3 hours ago, Seydou said:

Is it me or is there just more catastrophe all over the world

Or is shit reported way more?

we are more connected , so anything happens you know about it , its money making for news sites/tv, but the world is more safe than it the past 

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4 hours ago, Seydou said:

Is it me or is there just more catastrophe all over the world

Or is shit reported way more?

I swear I was having this conversation with some1 yesterday, he went off on a tangent about end of the world and it got long

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1 hour ago, Greens said:

Fucked up, imagine not being able to outrun it in your car.

/

Pretty sure every year the topic comes up about more stuff happening. Last year it was planes going missing, year before it was tsunamis etc

I cant even imagine fire moving that fast, that is nuts

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