All thought that the terrible fires raging in three central districts could be dominated in 24-hours (as authorities announced this morning click here) has been blown away by a sudden dramatic change in weather conditions that has seen flames flare up once again, forcing the evacuation of 27 villages in the borough of Góis.
Reporters on the ground had been complaining of a lack of press briefings this morning, which Commander Vítor Vaz Pinto has just addressed, giving an update on the numbers involved on the ground: 1202 firefighters, 404 vehicles, 17 planes – of which nine are heavy-duty Canadairs.
The situation is worrying, he explained, saying firefighters working to secure the perimeter round various blazes still prevalent in three districts have had to cope with “several re-ignitions”.
Media coverage today has focused on the rising feeling of despair. Even president Marcelo has been described as “having tears in his eyes”.
Yesterday an emotional minister for internal administration Constança Urbano de Sousa was seen wiping tears from her cheeks on screen several times as the country prays for good news.
New updates will come this afternoon as prime minister António Costa is said to be demanding “explanations” on whether there were ‘communications failings at the outset of this drama that contributed to the worst national tragedy in living memory.
A total of 13 locations have now been evacuated in the Pedrógão, with authorities having cleared 27 villages in the borough of Góis.
Minister for Internal Administration Constança Urbano de Sousa says these are “preventive evacuations” designed to ensure people’s safety.
With the situation far from under control, parliamentary leader Ferro Rodrigues has announced a national minute of silence to go ahead tomorrow at 1pm.
Parliamentary debates tabled for the next few days have been moved to September as tomorrow will see a “solemn session” in parliament, in which MPs will demonstrate solidarity for the devastated communities and families that have been living with a fire raging over them for more than 72 hours.