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Flames lit up the evening sky around Funchal on Tuesday

Madeira wildfires: Woman dies as flames reach Funchal

WT24 Desk

An elderly woman was killed and a thousand people evacuated from homes and hotels as wildfires on the Portuguese island of Madeira hit the capital, Funchal, BBC reports.  The woman died when her home caught fire near the centre of the city, reports said. Another two people have been seriously hurt.

Several buildings were destroyed, reportedly including a five-star hotel. Fires have burned for two days on the holiday island off north-west Africa.

Wildfires have also affected the Portuguese mainland in recent days as temperatures climb above 35C. Twelve major fires, most of them in the north-west of the country, were burning on Wednesday morning, according to Portugal’s civil protection agency.

Smoke fanned by strong winds from North Africa disrupted flights at Funchal airport. Firefighters said steep hills and dense woodland were making it difficult to tackle the flames.

However, Regional President Miguel Albuquerque told reporters that cooler temperatures forecast for Wednesday should ease the situation. Madeira has been experiencing high summer temperatures.

Footage showed plumes of smoke over central Funchal on Tuesday and residents using hosepipes to try to quench fires as burning embers were carried by the wind.

A shopping centre and a hospital were among the buildings evacuated, reports said.

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