The number of victims of forest fires in Portugal has increased

The blaze lights up the sky near Bouca in central Portugal

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed sadness over the loss of lives in the forest fire in Portugal.

The death toll released by Portuguese Secretary of State for Internal Affairs Jorge Gomes has gradually climbed from the 19 initially announced on Saturday.

One of multiple fires that spread in Portugal sent flames sweeping across a road, which reached motorists who became trapped in their cars.

The blaze is believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike in Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, overnight on Saturday.

Another 17 bodies were found next to the roads and 10 were recovered from the rural areas surrounding them.

Costa said the government's main priority for now is "to save people who could still be in danger" and contain the fire.

The fire broke out on Saturday in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal, before spreading fast across several fronts. Whatever the causes are found to be, the disaster is expected to focus unremitting attention on the prevention of forest fires, a perennial problem that has faced successive Portuguese governments.

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A wildfire is reflected in a stream at Penela, Coimbra, central Portugal, on June 18, 2017.

Mr Gomes said at least 30 of those killed were in vehicles consumed by flames on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera.

"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we can not remember a tragedy of these proportions", Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrógão Grande, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press agency.

Juncker wrote in the letter that "Our thoughts are with all the victims, their families and all the fearless soldiers of peace that in a very hard terrain and under challenging circumstances continue to fight this bad fire".

Earlier Costa said the injured included five people in critical condition as well as one child and four fighters.

Some local residents said they had been left without firefighters for hours as their homes burned. "We pray in silence", the Pope said. "The Portuguese people can count on our solidarity, support and care".

Media in Portugal said the fire is no closer to being contained despite about 600 firefighters working to put it out. "There are no words for that", he told reporters.

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