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The Latest: Portugal raises death toll back to 62

AP Jun 18, 2017

A man on the balcony of a house looks up at a forest fire raging on a hillside above the village of Avelar, central Portugal, before sunrise Sunday, June 18, 2017. A number of people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Firefighters of the Portuguese National Republican Guard work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Avelar, central Portugal, at sunrise Sunday, June 18 2017. A number of people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Portuguese National Republican Guard firefighters work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Avelar, central Portugal, at sunrise Sunday, June 18 2017. A number of people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Firefighters of the Portuguese National Republican Guard work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Avelar, central Portugal, at sunrise Sunday, June 18 2017. A number of people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Police investigators stand by a burnt car on the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed more than 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years." (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
A policeman stands by a covered body on a dirt road outside Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed more than 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years". (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Burnt cars block the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed more than 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years." (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
A policeman stands by a covered body on a dirt road outside Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed more than 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years". (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Cars drive past a burnt car on the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed more than 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years". (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, and Mexico's Carlos Salcedo go for the ball during the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Portugal and Mexico, at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Sunday, June 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Burnt cars block the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Players observe a minute of silence to honor the victims of forest fires that raged through central Portugal, prior to the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Portugal and Mexico, at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Sunday, June 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Police investigators stand by a burnt car on the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Firefighting airplanes work to extinguish a fire burning in the outskirts of Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Burnt trees stand by the side of a road approaching Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Policeman stand on the side of a closed road engulfed in smoke as an ambulance drives by outside Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed over 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
A burnt truck lies on a dirt road close to the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
A fire engine drives past a burnt van by an exit of the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Burnt cars block the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Burnt cars block the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Latest on the Portugal forest fires (all times local):

11:55 p.m.

Portuguese Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa said the death toll in a forest fire had risen to 62 by the end of Sunday. She said firefighters were still working on all four fronts of the fire.

Authorities had previously lowered the number of victims, saying that one body had been counted for twice, but the minister later confirmed that the official toll returned to 62.

Urbano de Sousa also said the country's judicial police was expecting to complete the identification of all bodies soon in order to release them as early as possible.

Authorities were overwhelmed with food and water donations for those affected and the emergency services working in the areas near Pedrogao Grande, in central Portugal.

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8:50 p.m.

Portugal's president says the country's pain "knows no end" as it mourns at least 61 people killed in the deadliest wildfire in memory.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa says in a televised address to the nation that "it is a time of pain but also ... a time to carry on the fight" against the flames. Almost 24 hours after Saturday night's deaths, the blaze was still raging across the forested hills of central Portugal.

In his broadcast Sunday, the head of state offered the emergency services his "endless thanks" for tackling the blaze and helping to rescue people in the fire's path.

Almost 900 firefighters were still battling the flames around Pedrogao Grande, a town 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

Three other major fires in the region are also causing concern, with five villages evacuated.

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6:25 p.m.

Portugal's prime minister says the death toll in the country's deadliest wildfire in memory is likely to rise.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Sunday that 61 deaths are confirmed but, "for sure, we are going to find some more victims." The wind-fueled blaze swept through the area around Pedrogao Grande, a town 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

Authorities say police are looking for bodies among the numerous isolated houses in the hills around Pedrogao Grande, which are thick with pine and eucalyptus forests.

Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa says "extremely adverse" weather conditions are preventing the fire being contained. Giant clouds of smoke punctuated the horizon as the sun set.

Strong winds, temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius and tinder-dry forests have fueled the fire, which started Saturday. Officials say reinforcements, including more firefighters, water-dumping planes and army units, were due to arrive Monday

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5:05 p.m.

Portugal's prime minister says the death toll has been lowered in the country's deadly forest fire to 61.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Sunday that death toll was reduced from the previously reported 62 people because one victim had been counted twice by authorities. He said "the dimension of this fire has caused a human tragedy beyond any in our memory."

Many of the victims died as they tried to flee the fire northeast of Lisbon in their cars.

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4:25 p.m.

Portugal's national soccer team is wearing black arm bands and has stood for a moment of silence with the Mexican team in solidarity with the country's forest fire victims.

The ceremony took place before the teams' match Sunday at the Confederations Cup tournament in Kazan, Russia.

Coach Fernando Santos, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the players released a statement saying "in this sad hour, we send our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the fires."

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, attending the match, also offered his condolences. He says "we want to send a big hug to everyone in Portugal for what they are going through, which is absolutely terrible. There are no words for that."

Officials say 62 people have died in a raging forest fire northeast of Lisbon, most while trying to flee in their cars.

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3:50 p.m.

Greece's prime minister has offered his Portuguese colleague Antonio Costa help in fighting the deadly wildfires in his country.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called Costa on Sunday afternoon to offer his condolences for the 62 victims of the forest fire northeast of Lisbon and to offer the support of the Greek people. His statement says Tsipras "also emphasized that Greece will offer any help necessary to fight the fires."

Greece experienced its deadliest fires a decade ago. From June to September 2007, 84 people died in Greek wildfires, including 67 in a blaze that torched 1,500 square kilometers (370,000 acres) of forest and farmland in southern Greece.

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2:55 p.m.

Portuguese officials say most of the 62 people who died in the forest fire north of Lisbon were trying to flee the inferno in their cars.

The forest fire began Saturday in the Pedrogao Grande area, 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said Sunday that at least 30 people died inside their cars as they tried to flee. He says 17 others died right outside their cars or by the road, 11 people died in the forest and two people died in a car accident related to the fire. He said there was no information on the other two deaths.

So far, no one has been reported killed by the fire inside a house.

Gomes says 54 people have also been injured, 5 of them seriously, including four firefighters and a minor.

Temperatures in the area have hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in recent days.

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1:30 p.m.

Portugal has declared three days of national morning as the forest fire death toll has reached 62.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes has told state broadcaster RTP that the number of victims from the flames and suffocating smoke has reached 60, while another two people perished in a traffic accident related to the fires.

The government has declared Sunday through Tuesday national days of mourning for the victims of a fire "which has caused an irreparable loss of human life."

The government also says that 360 soldiers are joining the 700 firefighters struggling to put out the blaze that started on Saturday.

The tragedy is the worst in recent memory in the southern European country, which often suffers wildfires during the hot and dry summer months.

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12:25 p.m.

The European Commission says it is working with EU member states to respond to the call for assistance issued overnight by Portuguese authorities in order to fight the forest fire in central Portugal that has claimed 57 lives so far.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sent a letter to Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, expressing "profound sadness" for the fire in Pedrogao Grande and offering "most felt solidarity."

Juncker wrote in the letter that "Our thoughts are with all the victims, their families and all the brave soldiers of peace that in a very difficult terrain and under challenging circumstances continue to fight this terrible fire."

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12 p.m.

Portugal's prime minister has thanked the hundreds of firefighters combating forest fires that have killed at least 57 people.

Antonio Costa tweeted his "deepest regret for the victims ... and a word of encouragement and strength for all who help combat this scourge."

He added "I am so thankful to the firefighters and other professions who are giving their all for the security of each of us by fighting the fires."

Also, Spain says it is sending two water-dumping aircraft to help neighboring Portugal fight the blaze that has raged since Saturday night.

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11:30 a.m.

Pope Francis has led thousands of people in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of the Portugal fire.

Francis referred to the "devastating fire" at the end of his Sunday prayer, delivered from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square.

The crowd fell silent and Francis bowed his head to recall the "many victims" of the blaze.

Francis visited the Portuguese shrine of Fatima last month.

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11:15 a.m.

Portugal's soccer team has expressed its condolences for the victims of forest fires that have claimed at least 57 lives.

The team's players, including star Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Fernando Santos, signed a statement saying "in this sad hour we send our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the fires."

Portugal's team is in Russia, where it is set to start the Confederations Cup later on Sunday against Mexico.

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10:25 a.m.

The European Union has activated its civil protection efforts to help Portugal fight forest fires that have killed at least 43 people.

The EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides expressed his condolences for the victims in a statement, saying the "EU is fully ready to help."

Stylianides says that in response to a request for help by Portugal, Spain and France are both sending aircraft to help fight the flames.

France is sending three planes, while Spain has sent several firefighting aircraft.

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9:50 a.m.

Spain's prime minister has offered support to Portugal after forest fires have killed at least 43 people in the neighboring country.

Mariano Rajoy has tweeted that he is "overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande. The Portuguese people can count on our solidarity, support and care."

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said that Spanish rescuers would assist in efforts to control the blazes.

Many victims were killed when their cars were engulfed by flames as they swept across a country road near the town of Pedrogao Grande.

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9:30 a.m.

A local resident who fled from a forest fire in central Portugal has blamed the lack of rain for helping produce the blaze that has killed 43 people and injured scores more.

Avelar resident Isabel Brandao has told The Associated Press that "the problem is that there was no rain. If it had rained, this would not happen."

Brandao said that "at 3:30 a.m. my mother-in-law woke me up quickly and we never went to sleep again. We were afraid the fire would reach us."

Portuguese authorities say that they are still investigating the cause of the fire. But Prime Minister Antonio Costa said high temperatures of 40 C (104 F) in recent days may have played a part.

Many victims were killed when their cars were engulfed by flames as they swept across a country road.

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8:25 a.m.

A Portuguese interior ministry official says that the death toll in the forest fires raging in central Portugal has increased to 39.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes has been quoted as giving the new figure on public broadcaster RTP. Government officials say many of victims died in their cars when flames swept over a road.

About 600 firefighters are fighting blazes that are raging in the Pedrogao Grande area about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

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This item has been corrected to show that Jorge Gomes is an Interior Ministry official, not interior minister.

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4:35 a.m.

Portuguese radio station TSF says the Interior Ministry has confirmed that 25 people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal.

Government officials say many of victims died in their cars when flames swept over a road.

About 600 firefighters are fighting blazes that are raging in the Pedrogao Grande area about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

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