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Thousands protest in Portugal against govt’s failure to tackle deadly wildfires (PHOTOS)

Thousands of people descended on downtown Lisbon on Saturday to vent their anger at the government’s lackluster response to devastating forest blazes ahead of a no-confidence vote. Raging in Portugal since June, the fires have claimed 108 lives so far.

Several thousand people filled Comercio Square in central Lisbon at around 4pm Saturday. The demonstrators brandished national banners and displayed signs reading, “Enough incompetence,” “Enough Fires,” “Shame,” “Criminals” and “We demand responsibilities and demand protection.”

Protests against the fires in Portugal

Публикация от Chris Maguire (@chrismaguire73)

Silent protest today!

Публикация от Filomena Ferreira Pinto (@eat_drink_walk)

Minor scuffles between rival groups of demonstrators were reported at the start of the event.

After that, the rally proceeded in the form of a silent protest under the slogan, “Mourning and silence for all the victims, for all the houses destroyed, for all the trees burned,” Diario de Noticias reported.

Já somos muitos 😇

Публикация от Maria Helena Evangelista (@mhevangelista)

Similar rallies took place across at least 10 municipalities, including in Porto, with people demanding that the government improve fire response and prevention policy.

A report on the fires drawn up by independent experts and made public last week exposed serious drawbacks in the way the government handled the emergency, including in civil protection and communications systems.

Similar rallies took place across at least 10 municipalities, including in Porto, with people demanding that the government improve fire response and prevention policy.

A report on the fires drawn up by independent experts and made public last week exposed serious drawbacks in the way the government handled the emergency, including in civil protection and communications systems.

The government’s low effectiveness in combatting the fires that plagued the country for a month and recent resumed was highlighted by the heavy death toll. A total of 64 people were killed as fires ripped through central Portugal in June. In a new wave, 44 people have died since last weekend, as more wildfires hit central and northern regions. 

As the country has been grappling with the wildfires without much success, the Socialist government of Prime Minister Antonio Costa has found itself in in a precarious position. When the death toll climbed to over 100 earlier this week, the interior minister resigned amid growing popular discontent. A no-confidence vote has been scheduled in the parliament for Tuesday.

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