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More than 50 arrested for arson in Portugal

According to the government, the devastating forest fires of the past few days and weeks are in the holiday destination of Portugal also due to carelessness and intentional arson. More than 50 people were arrested this year by mid-July on suspicion of being responsible for fires in the forestInterior Minister José Luis Carneiro told a parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday. That is more than 20 arrests more than in the same period last year, he emphasized.

According to the knowledge of the authorities in Portugal only 23 percent of all fires are purely natural causeshe said. Around 60 percent are caused by carelessness when using fire, such as grilling and smoking, or by lighting campfires. According to Carneiro, 13 percent involved intentional arson. The remaining 4 percent would be caused by the use of agricultural machinery, the minister explained. Portugal is doing everything to make society aware of the risks and to take preventive measures.

According to the nature conservation authority ICNF, fires have already destroyed Portugal in a good six and a half months this year almost 60 000 hectares. That is more than twice as much as in the entire previous year (28 415 hectares). This year, the outbreak and also the spread of the forest fires would be accompanied by a drought that has lasted for months, favored by particularly intense heat periods and recently also by strong winds, said the civil defense. In different parts of Portugal, six major forest fires were active on Tuesday evening, which were fought by a total of more than 900 emergency services, the state TV broadcaster RTP reported. (dpa)

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