Forest fires kill 24 in central Portugal

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The death toll in forest fires in central Portugal has risen to 24, says Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

The majority died while trying to flee the Pedrogao Grande area, 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Coimbra, in their cars, according to the government.

Several fire fighters are reported to be among about 20 people injured.

“We are witnessing a terrible tragedy. So far, 24 deaths are confirmed and the death toll may rise further,” said Mr Costa.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes earlier said that three people died from smoke inhalation and 16 died in their cars on the road linking Figueiro dos Vinhos to Castanheira de Pera.

It is not yet known what caused the fire, which has also burnt down houses in the area.

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