Firefighting airplane crashes in Portugal

Elias Hubbard
June 26, 2017

"There is a spirit of revolt towards the emergency services", he said.

A burnt truck next to a gate in the village of Pobrais, near Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, Monday, June 19 2017.

Temperatures forecast to reach 43 C, gusting winds and bone-dry woodland were fuelling the blazes, Vaz Pinto said.

He visited the affected area on Sunday and said: "Unfortunately, this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires". An additional 157 were listed as injured, the emergency services said.

(Spanish Airforce via AP).

Officials have said communications were knocked out in the initial fierce fires when most people died, affecting mobile and fixed telephone networks.

"It could have been a unusual coincidence, with a plane passing over and an explosion occurring on the ground at the same time", Coutinho told the AP.

A fire chief reopened the debate over Portugal's deadly forest blaze Wednesday, arguing it had a criminal origin, as hundreds of firefighters struggled to contain it.

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

The blaze had appeared to be under control on Tuesday, only for it suddenly to flare again, forcing authorities to evacuate 40 hamlets near the village of Gois, not far from Pampilhosa.

But 30 water-dropping aircraft were engaged in battling the blazes, some operating under bilateral agreements with the Portuguese government and others as part of a European Union co-operation agreement.

"This is great progress", Vitor Vaz Pinto told journalists, according to AFP news agency. There, about 1,100 firefighters supported by 11 water-dropping aircraft are battling the flames, which officials say they expect to extinguish by the end of the day.

He says a local woman told him she saw a plane crash in a fireball on Tuesday.

Earlier reports suggested that firefighters, backed by water-dumping planes, had tamed 70 per cent of the blaze.

The accident was initially reported by the Civil Protection Agency, which is overseeing firefighting operations.

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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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