Wildfires leave at least four dead on Portugal's Madeira

More than a thousand people have been evacuated and sent to makeshift shelters and army barracks.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Men take pictures of a burning house at Caminho do Meio during the forest fires in Funchal, Madeira island, Portugal August 10, 2016.

At least four people left dead and more than a thousand were evacuated as forest fires sweep  across the Portuguese island of Madeira for a third day, spreading to the regional capital and tourist destination Funchal.

The wildfire caused by high temperature and fuelled by strong winds have destroyed about 40 homes and a five-star hotel in the hills above Funchal.

View of Choupana Hills Hotel after last night's forest fires in Funchal, Madeira island, Portugal August 10, 2016.

The Portuguese interior ministry said it had requested help from the European Union. Neighbouring Spain sent two planes and Italy one aircraft to help with the fire-fighting efforts.

"This abnormal situation surpasses the normal response capacity of our forces," Prime Minister Antonio Costa said, warning that the next few days could be critical due to scorching temperatures.

The fire across the regional capital have been mostly taken under control, however several were still raging the other parts, regional governor Miguel Albuquerque told a televised news conference.

He said 80 people were in hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation, including two in a serious condition.

A man gestures as house burns as a wildfire spreads at Bom Sucesso in Funchal, Madeira island, Portugal, August 9, 2016.

All those killed and injured by the fires were local residents. One person was missing, Albuquerque said.

More than a thousand residents and tourists were sent to makeshift shelters and army barracks during the night although some had been allowed to return since. Two hospitals in the area were also evacuated.

Portuguese mainland also seen hundreds of wildfires mainly in the north for several days this week. Homes were destroyed and major motorways were shut for hours.

TRTWorld and agencies