Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa confirmed on Sunday that #Raging forest fires in the central region of the country have caused the largest tragedy of human lives lost they have known for many years. The BBC reports that at least 57 people are dead in the fire and around 60 injured, including firefighters. Due to the nature of the fire, Costa said they expect even more fatalities.

However, since that report, AP has tweeted the latest figures as reaching 62 dead, as Portugal announces three days of mourning in the country.

700 firefighters are trying to stop raging forest fire

According Jorge Gomes, an official with the Interior Ministry, at least 700 firefighters have been fighting the forest fire since it started on Saturday.

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Most fatalities reportedly happened in the #Pedrogao Grande area, approximately 95 miles from Lisbon.

The BBC quotes Gomes as saying around 30 of the victims died when their cars were caught up in the flames on the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, with another 17 dead next to their vehicles. Three other people were victims of smoke inhalation. The cause of death of the other victims is currently unreported. Six firefighters have been seriously injured while fighting the forest fire, with two missing. According to the local media, one injured victim was an eight-year-old girl who had suffered burns and was found alone close to the blaze.

As reported by The New York Post, Isabel Brandao, a resident in the area, said she feared for her life when she saw the fire coming.

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Brandao said at 3:30 a.m. the blaze seemed to be far away and she didn’t think it would reach them, however it was moving fast and they were afraid to go back to sleep.

Forest fire difficult to fight due to intense flames

According to the statement by Costa, firefighters had difficulty approaching the blaze as the fire was so intense. At present authorities are trying to identify the victims from the fire while two Spanish water-bombing planes are assisting to try and put out the flames. The European Union is also reportedly organizing an international relief and firefighting effort.

While the cause of the forest fire is unknown, recent temperatures have been in the region of 104 degrees Fahrenheit which could have had an effect as southern Europe is experiencing the first major heat wave of the summer season.

The mayor of Pedrogao Grande, Valdemar Alves, said that due to the area being forested, they have experienced fires before, but never to this extent. He was totally shocked by the number of victims who have died in the fire.