Costa warned the death toll could increase, adding there were now more than 700 emergency staff deployed to tackle the blaze along with air support from Spain and France.
The Judicial Police told Efe that the police had ruled out arson and pointed to lightning striking a tree as the most likely cause of the deadly fire.
Besides, another man was found dead in one of the villages affected by the blaze.
Some residents, including a 95-year-old disabled woman, spent over six hours in a water tank waiting out the fire.
In desperation, and with her legs already scorched, she came up with the idea of hiding in the storage tank. Many people were trapped in their cars after the inferno scorched the road and at least 30 motorists died in their cars.
The winds were so strong, she said, that roofs of the houses were blown out.
“With the help of my son we managed to take her here”. “We tried to convince our neighbours to stay, we begged them, but they still left” by vehicle, towards the road where 11 of them were found dead.
A few kilometres north of Nodeirinho, 11 people died in the village of Pobrais. The N-236 was being described as the “road of death” in Portuguese media. A survivor spoke of the roads being blocked and of no-one coming to their aid.
Maria de Fátima Nunes and her husband were also driving on the motorway when they were trapped by the fire.
Majority were families who had spent the afternoon at a beach on a nearby river, local authorities said. “I got burned too, on the chest”.
“There was fire at the top of the pine trees and they were falling over the cars. The cars crashed into each other trying to escape”. “Her husband did, but died there”.
Another 62 people were injured, with five in a critical state including a child and four firefighters.
The fire started during an intense heatwave – temperature soared over 40°C and thunderstorms.
Although the searing temperatures in Portugal had dropped slightly on Monday, the fire was still raging, spreading to neighbouring regions of Castelo Branco and Coimbra.