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Portugal forest fires death toll rises to 44

The death toll from forest fires that have devastated parts of central Portugal in recent days rose again on Friday to 44, following the death of one of the people injured in the blazes, authoriities said.

"It was a person who was seriously injured and hospitalised in Coimbra," Patricia Gaspar, spokeswoman for the civil protection authority, told AFP.

"The number of injured is still around 70," she added.

A day earlier another corpse was discovered in the central city of Coimbra, which was badly hit by the fires that broke on Sunday and have since been brought under control with the help of rain and calmer winds.

It was the second time Portugal has been hit by deadly forest fires in four months.

In June, 64 people died in the central Pedrogao Grande region, in what were the deadliest wildfires in the country's history.

On Wednesday, interior minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa resigned over the government's handling of the problem.

The Portuguese government which has been strongly criticised for its management of the crisis is set to hold a special cabinet meeting on Saturday.

Also on Saturday demonstrations are expected to be held in several cities to pay hommage to the victims of the fires and to demand reforms to prevent these tragedies from recurring.

Published : October 21, 2017

By : Agence France-Presse Lisbon