Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said that many were burned to death in their cars while making desperate attempts to flee.
“This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions,” said Valdemar Alves, mayor of Pedrógão Grande. “I am completely stunned by the number of deaths.”
The country’s prime minister has called it “the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years.”
The fire began around noon Saturday in a mountainous area of the central Leiria district and quickly spread to three other municipalities. The blaze has been exacerbated by high temperatures, soaring to as much as 40 degrees Celsius in places.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
Portugal's deadliest fire still rages after 62 people killed https://t.co/5NIgzzFrYW
— WORLD NEWS (@WorldNews7777) June 19, 2017