Reports of an air tanker crash in Portugal appear to be false

Ruben Hill
Июня 23, 2017

As anger mounted among the relatives of those killed, the daily Publico reported that civil protection personnel and back-up fire crews only reached the fire site two hours after the first emergency calls.

A fire fighting aircraft drops water over a fire outside the village of Pedrogao Grande central Portugal, Monday, June 19, 2017.

The Canadair plane is said to have come down in Pedrogao Grande, where dozens were killed on Saturday.

Questions also remain over how so many people could have died, a lot of them perishing on a single road that locals say should have been sealed off by first responders. Officials said the blaze was mostly contained, though still burning fiercely.

There were conflicting reports over whether a water-dropping plane had crashed.

An official at Portugal's air accident office, Maria Jose Andre, said a Canadair water-dropping plane had crashed.

With the Pedrogao Grande wildfire nearly out, firefighters were carrying out operations to prevent the fire from reigniting, Civil Protection Agency spokesman Vitor Vaz Pinto said.

The fires have claimed the lives of at least 64 people and injured more than 130 since Saturday.

Meanwhile, members of the government and lawmakers stood in silence outside the parliament building in Lisbon at 1 p.m. (1200 GMT.) President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and members of the emergency services gathered near Pedrogao Grande, where the main blaze broke out.

But in a freaky sequence of events, officials with the Portuguese government and the Civil Protection Agency said they could not confirm a crash had taken place.

Portugal's secretary of state for the interior, Jorge Gomes, said: "We are investigating if (the reports) are true".

A spokesman for Spain's Ministry of Defense said it had not lost a plane, denying earlier reports that a Spanish water-dropping plane had crashed.

More than 1,000 firefighters and nearly 400 fire engines are still battling to control the flames.

Temperatures forecast to reach 109 degrees, gusting winds and bone-dry woodland were fueling the blazes, Vaz Pinto said.

The official death toll from the fires now stands at 64.

Of the 64 victims, 47 died on one particular road - the N236 highway - including 30 who burned to death in their cars after being trapped by the flames.

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