Portugal fire: UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres 'shocked and horrified' as death toll rises to 62

United Nations: United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres 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," Xinhua quoted Guterres as saying in a statement on Sunday .

A raging forest fire in central Portugal sent flames sweeping over roads, killing at least 62 persons, many of them trapped in their cars as they tried to flee, according to media reports.

 Portugal fire: UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres shocked and horrified as death toll rises to 62

Firefighters work to put out a forest fire in central Portugal. Reuters

"Earlier on Sunday, 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.

"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," he added.

The United Nations chief commended the government, firefighters, emergency responders and civil society organisations "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.

Costa called it "the biggest tragedy" that Portugal has experienced in decades and declared three days of national mourning.

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Updated Date: Jun 19, 2017 07:33:21 IST