Portugal fires: confusion over plane crash claim

Portugal's Civil Protection agency said the town of Góis, some 40 km from the forest fire's epicenter in the Pedrógão Grande region was now the most risky zone in the area affected by the fire, Efe news reported.

Civil protection commander Vitor Vaz Pinto has said that some 30,000 hectares have been destroyed or partially destroyed by the Pedrogao fire, which has led to the evacuation of 23 small towns. An Instituto Nacional de Emergência Médica (INEM) helicopter was dispatched to the scene, TVI reports, as cited by Publico.

Local media had earlier reported a Canadair plane had crashed near the central Pedrogao Grande area.

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Emergency services in Portugal said Tuesday they were making good progress in controlling a major wildfire that killed 64 people in the central area of the country, while officials said reports that a water-dropping plane had crashed in the area of the blaze turned out to be false. The Civil Protection Agency said about 1,200 firefighters.

On Wednesday, government ministers and officials joined a minute's silence for the victims of Portugal's deadliest wildfire, which began at Pedrogão Grande on Saturday. Over a thousand firefighters and aircraft from several countries have taken part in the effort against the blazes, which have injured over 130 people since Saturday.

Mr Costa asked the national civil protection agency, the weather institute and police for a report on what went wrong, and also asked why a road, where many people died in their cars, had not been closed off.

Her office immediately sent a crash investigation team to the area but that she had no details about the plane, its crew or where the crash happened, she said.

"They told us the fire service would come but they never arrived", said Jose Antonio Gomes, 55, columns of smoke still rising in the hills around the village.

More than 1,000 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft have been battling the blaze in Pedrogao Grande.

Temperatures forecast to reach 43 degrees Celsius (109 Fahrenheit), gusting winds and bone-dry woodland were fueling the blazes, Vaz Pinto said.

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