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Survivors of the deadly Portugal fire reveal how they escaped

Some residents hid in a water tank for six hours before they could be rescued.
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As the death toll from the horrific fire in Portugal rises to at least 63, horror stories of residents trying to escape have begun to emerge.

Some residents, including a 95-year-old disabled woman, spent over six hours in a water tank waiting out the fire.

Maria do Céu Silva has been praised for housing her neighbours in her water tank right next to the IC8 motorway – an area badly affected by the fire.

She thought of using the water tank when she was unable to get her disabled mother in the car to escape.

“My husband told me to put her in the van but she couldn’t get in by herself so she told me: ‘Let me die on the floor’,” she told Correio da Manhã newspaper.


“With the help of my son we managed to take her here.”

Her 81-year-old father also survived thanks to hiding in the tank.

The scene of the fire was “like a horror movie” Ms Silva said, with winds so strong the roofs of the house were blown off.

Gareth Roberts, an Englishman living in Portugal for the last four years, described being trapped in a small village after being directed off the “road of death” by an officer.

“The devastation was indescribable. People, bewildered, remains of homes burning uncontrollably, concrete posts exploding over roads,” he told the BBC.

Maria de Fátima Nunes and her husband were also driving on the motorway when they were trapped by the fire.

“My husband was burned on the arm,” she told SIC Notícias. “I got burned too, on the chest.”

“There was fire at the top of the pine trees and they were falling over the cars. The fire was coming from all sides. The cars crashed into each other trying to escape.”

There was another couple in the car behind them, but Ms Nunas said they didn’t escape and died on the road.

“I shouted for the woman to get out of the car, but she didn’t. Her husband did, but died there.”

The death toll of the devastating fire has risen to 63 while authorities face mounting criticism for not doing enough to prevent the catastrophe.

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