€70,000 set as minimum payout to families of Portugal’s killer fire victims

Every death caused by the terrible fires that raged across Portugal last summer will see the government paying out a minimum of €70,000 to relatives left behind.

The council set up to attribute compensation payments is leaving exact quantities to be set by the courts, on the basis of the kind of suffering victims endured pre-death and the damage their loss has caused immediate family members.

Numbers are still in contention but believed to involve “at least 115” men and women, the majority of them elderly.

Meantime, the investigator charged with mapping the events that led to last summer’s worst tragedy – the killer fires of Pedrógão Grande – has hit out at what he calls the government’s decision to censor the most relevant chapter: a 96-page account that “contains the most delicate elements of this event, because it refers to its effect on people and justifies, in a large part, the enormous impact (the fire) had, on both a national and international level”.

Xavier Viegas has written an opinion article today in Público saying that it is “distressing” to see the work of a research team, “with evidence and contributions given in the study of the behaviour of the fire, security and protection of people and property, ‘censored’ in order to protect data that is in the public domain”.

The number deaths caused by the Pedrógão Grande fire has been steeped in controversy from the outset: official sources agreeing on 64, others suggesting 65.

The dead in October 15’s terrible fires in the centre of the country have also ‘ranged’ from 45 to 48 and occasionally even 50.

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