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Portugal Mourns Following Wildfire Tragedy

A forest fire raging since Saturday in central Portugal has killed at least 61 people, most dying in their cars while trying to flee.

Anabela Silva stands in front of her house with her burnt car in the background after a wildfire swept through Figueiro dos Vinhos on June 18, 2017.

Portugal declared three days of national mourning on Sunday as Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa called the disaster "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years."

The wildfire raged across central Portugal, with authorities saying  61 have been killed so far and 59 more injured. Most of those killed burned to death in their cars, the government said on June 18, after the flames swept over the road faster than they could escape. Several hundred firefighters and 160 vehicles were dispatched late on June 17 to tackle the blaze, which broke out in the afternoon in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande, Leiria District, Center of Portugal, before spreading fast across several fronts.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Sunday evening that the death toll is likely to continue to rise as rescue officers search seared land for victims. 

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

A burnt car rests in front of a house after its brush with the wildfire in Figueiro dos Vinhos on June 18.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

Red Cross and police evacuate resident from their homes near the dangerous wildfire at Torgal, Castanheira de Pera on June 18.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images
A man passes by his burnt truck in Figueiro dos Vinhos on June 18. Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

A firefighter removes a hose on June 18.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images
Local residents, some with masks on their faces, wait out the wildfire near Torgal on June 18. Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

Two women cover their faces against the smoke while fleeing the wildfire threatening the village of Torgal on June 18.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

Portuguese Republican National Guard soldiers fight the fire in Capela Sao Neitel, Alvaiazere, central Portugal on June 18.

Paulo Cunha / EPA

A firefighter helps a woman in Pedrogao Grande on June 17.

Paulo Cunha / EPA

National Guard soldiers battle the fire in Capela Sao Neitel on June 18.

Paulo Cunha / EPA
A firefighter reacts while battling the blaze in Vale das Porcas, Alvaiazere, central Portugal, June 18. Paulo Cunha / EPA
Firefighters work to stop the fire from reaching the village of Avelar, in central Portugal, at sunrise on June 18. Armando Franca / AP

A policeman stands by the body of a victim in Pedrogao on June 18.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

Burnt cars and body bags lay on the N236 road between Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera on June 18.

Miguel A. Lopes / EPA

Firefighters rest at Penela, Coimbra, central Portugal on June 18.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

A man stands on the roadside and watches the wildfire at Anciao, Leiria, central Portugal on June 18.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images

A house burns in Figueira, near Pedrogao Grande on June 17.

Paulo Cunha / EPA

Firefighters work to put out the fire near Bouca, in central Portugal on June 18.

Rafael Marchante / Reuters
A woman reacts in Pampilhosa da Serra, central Portugal on June 18. Paulo Novais / EPA
Flames and smoke near the village of Mega Fundeira on June 18. Miguel Riopa / AFP - Getty Images
Local residents are evacuated from the village of Derreada Cimeira on June 18. Rafael Marchante / Reuters
Trees still burn on June 19, near Castanheira de Pera. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Images
A resident of the village of Trespostos uses a hose as he tries to extinguish the wildfire surrounding houses in Figueiro dos Vinhos on June 18. Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images
A man stands in the stairway of a house with smoke billowing from the roof in an area devastated by the wildfire in Canical, near Alvares on June 18. Miguel Riopa / AFP - Getty Images
Villagers sit outdoors as the fire burns near the village of Fato in central Portugal on June 18. Rafael Marchante / Reuters
Isabel Godinho, 63 years old, cries inside her burnt garage at Vilas de Pedro in Figueiro dos Vinhos on June 19. Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP - Getty Images