President of Turkmenistan condoles with Portuguese President over deadly wildfires

The country was in mourning after the deadliest such disaster in Portugal's recent history, with many victims burnt as they were trapped in their cars.

"Portugal weeps for Pedrogao Grande", said the I newspaper while mainstream Publico's headline simply read "Why?"

On Sunday, Prime Minister António Costa, during a visit to the area, said that the disastrous inferno had brought "a dimension of human tragedy that we can not remember".

There are fears that death toll could rise as several people were missing.

"We stand with the people of Portugal during this very sad period and pray to God to comfort and console the bereaved families", she said via Twitter on Tuesday.

Although the searing temperatures in Portugal had dropped slightly on Monday, the fire was still raging, spreading to neighbouring regions of Castelo Branco and Coimbra.

Local residents too have stepped in to try to stop the blaze. "In five minutes all were on fire in an area of around 10km", he said.

"I have witnessed a lot of fires, but never like this, it's never happened here - the way it spread, the speed", said Betty Jesus, a 50-year-old Venezuelan who has lived in the area for decades.

Virgilio Godinho, who lives in the village of Figueiro, said the fire quickly overwhelmed the community.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has admitted in a message to the nation that there are "questions that grieve us" but called on the population to concentrate on putting out the fire and helping the victims for the time being.

One of the worst-hit areas was around the village of Nodeirinho.

The fire, which began on Saturday afternoon, ignited in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande in Leiria, a huge plain with small villages crisscrossed by several national roads. "We tried to convince our neighbours to stay, we begged them, but they still left" by auto, towards the road where 11 of them were found dead. Strong winds together with temperatures above 40 degrees on Saturday caused the fire to spread rapidly, hindering the work of firefighters.



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