240,000 hectares of forest destroyed by wildfires in Portugal

An estimated 240,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land have been destroyed by wildfire in Portugal, according to the latest official figures.

The total size of the area burned was still being updated but damage to agriculture and property already totals more than „џ1.06 billion (US$1.3 billion), Interior Minister Antonio Costa said late Tuesday.

The fires have killed 15 people - including 11 firefighters - destroyed 116 houses and forced the evacuation of several villages.

It is the second worst year on record for fires in Portugal after 2003.

That year, fires killed 18 people and burned 424,000 hectares (1 million acres) - a record five percent of the country's territory.

Portugal is suffering one of its worst droughts on record with little or no rain falling for the last 10 months, the AP reports.

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