Portugal forest fire: What we know

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Firefighters were continuing a grim search for bodies, with Costa warning on Sunday that the death toll could still rise.

Once the flames have been extinguished, however, there will no doubt be an investigation into why so many victims apparently died after finding themselves cut off, encircled by fire and stranded along roads they took while trying to flee by auto.

A French national was killed by huge forest fires in central Portugal, French foreign ministry said on Monday.

Despite government assurances that the first response by the emergency services was swift and adequate, media and residents questioned its efficiency and the strategic planning in a country which is used to wooded areas burning every year.

President Marcelo Rebelo went to the Leiria region to meet victims' families, saying he was "sharing their pain in the name of all the Portuguese people".

High temperatures, extremely dry conditions and strong winds also hampered efforts to tackle the fire, he added.

Portuguese firefighters work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Figueiro dos Vinhos central Portugal, Sunday, June 18, 2017.

The country was in mourning after the deadliest such disaster in its recent history, with many victims burnt as they were trapped in their cars around the epicentre in Pedrogao Grande.

A Firefighter battles with a fire in Pampilhosa da Serra, central of Portugal.

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Reinforcements, including more water-dropping planes from Spain, France and Italy, were due to arrive as part of a European Union cooperation program, officials said.

"It's really sad and heartbreaking", she said. The total number of injured in the region of the fire-which authorities said was 70 per cent under control-stood at 135 since Saturday.

"Those are places I've visited in the past, and to see the images of the roads covered by fire with all those cars, it's really bad", said Silva, who has lived in Toronto for the past 14 years.

"We are most likely facing the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known", Costa said. Most of the victims were burnt to death in their cars, the Portuguese government said.

Image: Aerial view of a forest fire is seen from the cabin of a Spanish fire fighting plane near Pedrogao Grande, Portugal, June 18, 2017.

Authorities say that altogether 135 people were treated as a result of the blaze, including 13 firefighters and one soldier.

The forest fires began late on Saturday.

Information for this article was contributed by Helena Alves, Armando Franca, Barry Hatton, Joseph Wilson, Aritz Parra, and Tales Azzoni of The Associated Press; by Raphael Minder of The New York Times; and by Joao Lima of Bloomberg News.

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