Portugal declares day of mourning following devastating fires

Hundreds of firefighters have been tackling the blaze in the centre of the country but it’s now known that at least 61 people have died.

Villagers look at flames during a wildfire near the village of Mega Fundeira on 18 June, 2017. Picture: AFP

LONDON – Portugal has declared a day of national mourning for the dozens of people who have died in forest fires.

Hundreds of firefighters have been tackling the blaze in the centre of the country but it’s now known that at least 61 people have died.

This is one of the worst forest fires ever recorded in Portugal.

It’s still raging on several fronts across a mountainous region 200km northeast of the capital Lisbon.

The authorities believe that a lightning strike ignited parched areas during a heatwave.

Many of the victims have been found dead inside their cars as they tried to flee the area on a single road leading to a motorway.

Another 11 died in a village next to the motorway.

More than 1,600 firefighters are being supported by about 400 vehicles and 18 aircraft.

Many residents remain unaccounted for.

WATCH: At least 61 killed in Portugal forest fire