The massive forest fire in Central Portugal has already killed at least 60 people, says local authorities and media.
The wildfire also caused many dying in their cars as they tried to flee the flames.
According to Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, described the blazes – which have injured dozens more people – as “the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires”, and warned the death toll could rise.
Due to the tragic incident, the national government has already declared a three-day national mourning.
To combat and stop the fire to eat the rest of the territory, several hundred firefighters and 160 vehicles were dispatched late on Saturday, which broke out in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande before spreading fast.
On Sunday morning, Spain dispatched two water-bombing planes to aid the Portuguese fire service, while France sent three aircraft.
Meanwhile, Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has vowed to provide any assistance necessary, via his tweet, “Stunned by the tragedy in Pedrógão Grande. The Portuguese people can depend on our solidarity, support and affection.”
At least two Britons were among the injured receiving treatment for minor burns and smoke inhalation. Both were later discharged from hospital.
The Iberian peninsular is sweltering under a severe heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 40C (104F) in some regions.
About 60 forest fires took hold across Portugal on Saturday night, with 1,700 firefighters battling to put them out.
As press time, initial death toll was thought to be 62 but Costa later said that 61 people had died, as one victim had been counted twice by authorities.
“The dimension of this fire has caused a human tragedy beyond any in our memory,” PM Rajoy added.
Meanwhile, Jorge Gomes, secretary of state for internal administration, confirmed that 22 people burned to death in their cars after becoming trapped by flames on the road between Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera. Three others died from smoke inhalation.
More than 50 people were injured overall, with 18 of them taken to hospitals in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra. Five of them – four firefighters and a child – were seriously injured.
Gomes said the flames spread “with great violence”, moving out on four fronts. Dry thunderstorms could have been the cause, according to Costa. The government said it was unlikely that the fires had been started deliberately.
Several world leaders have already expressed deepest sadness over the tragedy, like the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who tweeted: “My thoughts are with the victims in Portugal. I commend the bravery of the firefighters. EU civil protection mechanism activated and will help.”
Also, Pope Francis led thousands of people in silent prayer for the victims of what he called the “devastating fire” in Portugal, while the Portuguese football team offered its “deepest sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the fires”.