UN chief expresses condolences to Portuguese people for wildfire victims
UNITED NATIONS, June 18 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed his condolences to the Portuguese government and people after wildfires have claimed many lives.
"I am shocked and horrified by the many lives claimed by today's devastating fires that hit the Pedrogao Grande region of Portugal," Guterres said in a statement.
A raging forest fire in central Portugal sent flames sweeping over roads, killing at least 61 people, many of them trapped in their cars as they tried to flee, according to media reports.
"Earlier today, I spoke with the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and with the Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, to express my deep sadness and condolences to the Portuguese government and people," he said, adding that "I wish a speedy recovery to the injured. At this time of loss, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims."
The UN chief commended the government, firefighters, emergency responders and civil society organizations "who are sparing no efforts to battle the wildfire and help people in need."
"The United Nations stands ready to assist in any way possible," he said.
Portuguese Prime Minister Costa called it "the biggest tragedy" that Portugal has experienced in decades and declared three days of national mourning.