Overnight rain and calmer winds on Tuesday helped firefighters tame a spate of deadly wildfires that broke out over the weekend, devouring homes and killing 37 people in Portugal and another four in northern Spain.
Portugal’s civil protection agency said the 15 biggest fires, which had raged through the centre and the north of the country, had been brought under control.
As the country began three days of mourning for the victims, the agency said 71 people had been injured in the fires, 16 of them seriously. And one person was still missing.
Among the dead was a one-month-old baby.
“Most of the victims were killed in their cars, but we also found them inside their houses,” said Jose Carlos Alexandrino, mayor of Oliveira do Hospital near Coimbra, speaking to broadcaster RTP.
“The whole city looked like a ball of fire, surrounded by flames on all sides.”
Across the border in Galicia, Spain’s westernmost province which flanks northern Portugal, the death toll rose to four from fires which also broke out on Sunday and were stoked by warm winds as Hurricane Ophelia passed the Iberian Peninsula.
The latest victim was a 70-year-old man who died on Monday in Vigo, a city on the coast. But by Tuesday, officials said they had lowered the alert level after early-morning rain and calmer winds halted the progression of the flames.
It is the second time in four months that Portugal has been hit by deadly wildfires after huge blazes in June killed 64 people in the worst fires in Portugal’s history. (AFP)