Portuguese radio says 25 people killed in forest fires

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A forest fire in central Portugal killed at least 19 people on Saturday, majority occupants of various vehicles that were on the road and caught in the blaze, an official said in televised remarks.

Portuguese radio station TSF, citing the Interior Ministry, said 25 people had been killed in blazes in the Pedrogao Grande area, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

About 700 firefighters have been trying to put out the fires since Saturday, Gomes said.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said 57 people burned to death, mostly trapped in their cars engulfed by flames in the Leiria region.

About 20 people have been injured, 14 of them seriously. Some were hospitalized in serious condition Sunday, CNN affiliate TVI reported.

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Prime Minister Antonio Costa called it "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years".

He added "I am so thankful to the firefighters and other professions who are giving their all for the security of each of us by fighting the fires".

Brandao said that "at 3:30 am my mother-in-law woke me up quickly and we never went to sleep again".

The source of the fire, which broke out at around 2pm local time on Saturday, is so far unknown, but will be determined "in due course", PM Costa added.

Mr Costa said that they are witnessing a bad tragedy.

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Smoke rises from a forest fire, seen from the village of Mourisco in central Portugal. "I am complete stunned by the number of deaths".

He said authorities were working on identifying the victims and Spanish rescuers would help efforts to put out the fires.

'The priority now is to save those people who could still be in danger'.

"My thoughts are with the victims in Portugal", EU commission head Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted.

Last August, an outbreak of fires across Portugal killed four people, including three on the island of Madeira, and destroyed huge areas of forest. "The Portuguese people have our solidarity, support and affection", Spain President Mariano Rajoy Brey wrote on Twitter.

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