At least 41 people have died in Portugal, where firefighters are slowly gaining control over 15 major wildfires. The fires, which have ripped through the centre and north of the country, have been brought under control with the help of overnight rain and lighter winds. Portugal has begun three days of mourning for the victims as 71 people recover from injuries, 16 of them in a serious condition. There is one person still missing, officials have said. Jose Carlos Alexandrino, mayor of Oliveira do Hospital near Coimbra, told broadcaster RTP: "Most of the victims were killed in their cars, but we also found them inside their houses. "The whole city looked like a ball of fire, surrounded by flames on all sides." Jose Morais, a resident in the village of Vouzela, told AFP: "Everything happened in 45 minutes, the fire came to the foot of the village and spread at an incredible rate. "I had never seen anything like that before. It felt like the end of the world. Everyone fled." A senior fire officer told Portuguese news RTP: "There was a lot of rain during the night but not enough to completely put out the fire." He added that the main difficulty for firefighters was tiredness and the large area they needed to cover. This year, fire has destroyed more than 350,000 hectares of vegetation in Portugal, according to the European Forest Fire Information System. This is four times the annual average over the past decade. One of the problems is that the country has many fast-burning eucalyptus trees, used to supply the country's paper industry. The government has been criticised for its response to the situation. But Jorge Gomes, Portugal's secretary of state of internal administration, said it was "the responsibility of communities to be proactive and not wait for the firemen to fix their problems". Mr Costa stood by his comments, adding that the "country needs to realise the situation will go on for the next few years". "If you think there's a magical solution to all this," he told the Portuguese people, "you're wrong". In June, 64 people were killed in the country's worst fires.