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Thirty injured as 1,000 firefighters battle wildfires in Portugal | World News

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More than 1,000 firefighters are tackling wildfires spreading in east Portugal, which have injured 30 people.

Homeowners tried to protect their properties from the huge fires with buckets of water and hosepipes as strong winds fanned the winds on Sunday.

Portugal’s Civil Protection Authority said more than 1,150 firefighters were working to contain the blazes, which broke out on Saturday across three fronts in the district of Castelo Branco, 124 miles (200km) north east of the capital Lisbon.

A firefighter passes while a wildfire burns the forest at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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There are 1,000 firefighters working to contain the blazes
Villagers help to put out a forest fire at the small village of Colos, Portugal
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Villagers help to put out a forest fire at the small village of Colos, Portugal

Authorities said one injured civilian was taken to hospital and is in a serious condition after suffering first and second-degree burns.

Villages and fluvial beaches were evacuated as a precaution and 30 people are known to be injured.

Firefighters were being supported by 10 firefighting aircraft as well as hundreds of vehicles.

Some houses were affected by the fires but Portugal’s Civil Protection did not provide a specific number.

A villager holds a hose as a wildfire comes close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Villagers have tried to keep the flames away from their homes
A firefighters tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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A firefighter tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao

“The fire is out of control, without resources on the ground, and the population at risk,” Vasco Estrela, the mayor of Macao, told Portuguese radio station TSF. “We never thought we would live through this again.”

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the Portuguese president, said he would be in contact with the mayors in the affected areas.

A statement on the presidential website said: “Aware of adverse weather conditions, the President of the Republic conveys all solidarity to the men and women who fight them, as well as to the most directly affected populations, accompanied by all the Portuguese.”

Strong winds have made it more difficult for firefighters to tackle the blaze, but authorities said they hoped to have them under control soon.

One wildfire made its way to Macao, an area in the district of Santarum, in western Portugal where temperatures reached 34C (93.2F) on Sunday.

A car burns near at the small village of Vila de Rei, Portugal
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A car burns near at the small village of Vila de Rei, Portugal
Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near the village of Vila de Rei
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Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near the village of Vila de Rei

Images broadcast by Portuguese TV channel TVI showed villagers in Macao trying to protect their houses and animals as smoke filled the air, forcing many to wear masks.

“(It will be) an afternoon of intense work,” Belo Costa, a Civil Protection official, told reporters.

Police have opened an investigation on the fires, with local authorities considering it unusual that all blazes had started in a narrow time frame between 2.30pm and 3.30pm local time on Saturday in the same area.

In a statement, police said that a 55-year-old man was detained on suspicion of starting a blaze in the Portuguese district of Castelo Branco.

A firefighter monitors the progression of a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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So far eight firefighters have been injured
A villager tries to put out the fire as it gets close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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A villagers throws water on the fire as flames creep toward his home

One resident said: “The wildfire came with force. We [the residents] had to fight the flames.”

He said there were not enough firefighters, a worry echoed by Ricardo Aires, the mayor of Vila de Rei which has been affected.

The army is sending 20 soldiers and four bulldozers to help with the operation.

A villages holds a hose as a wildfire comes close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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There have been no wildfire deaths since 2017
A firefighter tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The fires broke out on Saturday night

This is the first major wildfire in Portugal this year.

In 2017, 106 people were killed in some of the country’s deadliest fires on record.

The Portuguese government backed stronger firefighting prevention methods after the heavy death toll of that year and there were no wildfire deaths in 2018.

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Kanye West performs songs from Jesus Is King for tearful prison inmates | Ents & Arts News

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Never mind dancing to the jailhouse rock, Kanye West moved some inmates to tears during a surprise show at a prison in Texas.

Almost everybody in the whole cell block at Harris County jail were treated to a performance by the rapper, who reportedly turned up for an exclusive presentation for 200 selected prisoners and staff at the facility.

West shared tracks from his new gospel album Jesus Is King during his visit, with a number of people in the audience seen welling up in a video released by Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Kanye West performed two shows at Harris County jail in Texas
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Kanye West performed two shows at Harris County jail in Texas
The rapper performed for about 200 inmates and prison staff
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The rapper performed for about 200 inmates and prison staff

The 42-year-old performed with the backing of a choir, and then moved on to another facility across the street where a smaller selection of female inmates were treated to a show.

West was said to have used a secret tunnel to get to the site of his second concert on Friday, which were kept secret from the public and organised with the approval of prison officials.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said representatives of the music star got in touch about doing the performances, which were reminiscent of jailhouse concerts given by country singer Johnny Cash in California.

Cash performed twice at Folsom State Prison in January 1968 and the 17 total tracks from the shows were later released as part of a live album titled At Folsom Prison.

Unlike At Folsom Prison, Jesus Is King has received a mixed critical reaction since its release earlier this week.

The album, which suffered two delays before finally coming out, holds an average score of just 55 on the reviews aggregation website Metacritic – although it does have its fans.

West shook hands with a number of the inmates during his visit
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West shook hands with a number of the inmates during his visit
The prisoners were excited to meet the music star
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The prisoners were excited to meet the music star

British music magazine-turned-website NME gave the album – billed by West as “an expression of the gospel” – a four star review and said it was a step-up from the 2018 release dubbed Ye.

It has also been praised by members of the Christian community – and West is due to speak about the album during a trip to the vast 17,000-seat Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday.

Inmates were moved to tears during the performances
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Inmates were moved to tears during the performances
West reportedly used a secret tunnel to reach the facility where the female inmates are being held
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West reportedly used a secret tunnel to reach the facility where the female inmates are being held

The album opened at number one on the US Billboard 200, giving West – who is one of the most successful and influential artists of the 21st century – his ninth consecutive album to debut atop the rankings.

It remains to be seen whether Jesus Is King enjoys any awards success, potentially helping West – who shares four children with his reality TV star wife Kim Kardashian West – add to a haul that already includes 21 Grammys.

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At least seven killed in gas explosion in Bangladesh | World News

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At least seven people have been killed after a gas pipeline exploded in the Bangladeshi port city of Chittagong.

The gas pipeline exploded in front of a five-storey building, blowing walls off the building, a local police official said, citing witnesses.

Eight people who were injured in the blast have been taken to hospital.

More to follow…

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Australia bushfires: Meet the koalas lucky to be alive after devastating blazes | World News

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Over the edge of a little knitted pouch, two bright eyes peer out.

Next, a tiny grey paw wriggles free and then a fluffy grey and white ear pops forward.

They belong to a koala joey named Haze.

KOALAS
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Haze is being looked after by Christeen McLeod
KOALAS
KOALAS

At just a few months old she weighs less than half a bag of sugar.

Her mother is dead, killed in the recent bushfires in the Australian state of New South Wales.

Haze should be still in her mother’s pouch, but a firefighter spotted her and rescued her from the flames.

“She was very ill when she arrived, in fact I didn’t think she was going to survive,” her carer Christeen McLeod explains.

“If she hadn’t have been found, she would have been baked. An owl, a fox, wild dogs would have just got her and that would have been the end of her if she hasn’t perished in the fires.”

She and her husband Paul are currently caring for 25 koalas at their home in the east coast town of Taree.

KOALAS
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Haze is one of 25 koalas being cared for by Christeen and her husband at their home
KOALAS
KOALAS

They run the charity Koalas in Care, providing 24 hour treatment to injured animals every day of the year.

But the bushfire crisis has led to a surge in patients, with nine new cases being admitted in the last few days alone.

In their lounge, big washing baskets, packets of nappies and breathing equipment stand ready and waiting for next emergency. A room to the side of the house has been transformed into a critical care ward.

In two of the cages another set of joeys snuggle down into their hand knitted pouches, next to them a bigger koala sits on a padded branch chewing eucalyptus leaves.

“This is Sparky, he’s from the Harrington fire,” Christeen says, opening the door of the cage.

Sparky has been with them for around two weeks.

KOALAS
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Sparky the koala has been in care for a few weeks
KOALAS

His fur was singed and his nose and paws were badly burnt, he’s lucky to be alive.

The fires burning around Taree have been some of the biggest of the past week and some of the animals brought in have such severe injuries they’re being transferred to clinics outside the danger zone.

It’s estimated at least 350 have been killed in blazes in New South Wales.

“Other animals will run out of the fire zone, koalas will go to the top of the tree so if you’ve got a crown fire you’re gonna have an incinerated koala,” Christeen says.

Earlier this year, World Wildlife Fund Australia warned the continued threat to their habitat means koalas could be extinct in the state by 2050.

The McLeods fear the surge in fires could accelerate the problem.

KOALAS
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At least 350 koalas are feared dead in New South Wales

“These might be the insurance policy for the next generation,” Paul says, showing me a group of juveniles who are ready for release, adding: “They virtually could be the only ones left out of the whole population.”

The ongoing threat means it’s too dangerous to release the healthy, their habitat has been decimated by flames and there’s currently nowhere safe to go.

With fires still burning it’s difficult to gauge the full impact but here they fear the worst.

“This is going to devastate our koala population,” Christeen sadly warns.

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