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Portugal gains upper hand over wildfire as death toll rises to 64

A Portuguese National Republican Guard firefighter keeps watch on a forest fire burning near the village of Ouzenda, outside Pedrogao Grande, central Portugal, on Tuesday. Picture by Armando Franca, Associated Press

Firefighters in Portugal have said they are close to bringing under control a major wildfire that killed 64 people in the central area of the country.

More than 1,000 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft are battling the blaze in Pedrogao Grande, which is raging for a third consecutive day.

The Civil Protection Agency said it hoped to contain the flames on Tuesday, though temperatures forecast to reach 43C (109F) and gusting winds remain a threat.

The death toll was raised from 63 to 64 late on Monday.

Government officials said Prime Minister Antonio Costa has ordered an investigation into what happened on Saturday night, when the deaths occurred.

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