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Portuguese govt survives no confidence vote over forest fires

Published on 24/10/2017

The Portuguese government on Tuesday survived an opposition no-confidence motion over two deadly forest fires that have killed more than 100 people since the middle of June.

The motion brought on by the opposition CDS-PP right-wing party aimed to “give voice to the indignation of numerous Portuguese who have lost confidence in the government.”

The motion was defeated by 122 votes to 105.

Sixty-four people died when huge forest fires swept the central Pedrao Grande region in mid-June. In the middle of October, fresh fires killed 45 people, according to a new toll by the civil protection agency.

“Things cannot remain the same as before,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa pledged.

Nearly half of all forests burned in the European Union in 2016 were in Portugal, where fire-prone eucalyptus and pine plantations along with poor soil encouraged the deadly flames.

The country is set to break the record for destroyed forests in 2017, with recent disasters killing dozens of people.

Last week, Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa resigned over the government’s handling of the problem.