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Cristiano Ronaldo leads tributes to victims of Portugal, Spain fires

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and other football stars have expressed support on social media for the firefighters and victims of the fires that have ravaged Portugal and the north of Spain over the past few days.

At least 36 people in Portugal and four in Spain have died since the fires began over the weekend.

More than 50 people have also been injured in Portugal, with 15 reported to be in a serious condition.

"Impossible to be indifferent to this tragedy," Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted. "I express my solidarity to the families and friends of the victims. My total support to the firefighters that risk their lives to help as best they can."

Ronaldo's Madrid teammate, Lucas Vazquez, hails from Galicia in northern Spain and sent an emotional message to his compatriots.

"All my love to my land, Galicia," Vazquez tweeted. "I send all my support to those who are fighting against the flames."

Thousands of firefighters are battling the flames under very difficult conditions which were worsened by Hurricane Ophelia as it approached Europe's western coast, bringing strong winds that spread the flames.

Barcelona captain and Spain international Andres Iniesta tweeted: "A lot of support to the victims and those affected. Strength Galicia, strength Asturias, strength Castilla Leon, strength Cantabria, strength Portugal."

Celta Vigo striker and Spain international Iago Aspas, a Galician, told Cadena Ser after scoring a hat trick on his 250th appearance for his club in a 5-2 La Liga win at Las Palmas on Monday: "It's difficult to be away from Galicia at this time, it has been complicated and I can't wait to get home. Fortunately, my village was not affected but I know the situation in Vigo was terrible.

"We dedicate the victory to those that helped against the fires. A united Galicia can overcome this. All my support to my people, I believe everything will return to be how it was before."

The province of Vigo was the worst affected in northern Spain and thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes on Sunday as fires began to burn buildings.

Barcelona midfielder Denis Suarez, who was born in Vigo, said he also suffered from being away from home.

Suarez said he was "proud" of the strength and the solidarity shown by Galicians at this difficult time.

He told Cadena Ser: "I hardly slept last night because my father was among those that helped battle the flames. Yesterday was a very tough day for Galicia and I want to send my support to all the families of the victims and those affected in Galicia, Asturias and Portugal.

"It's the hardest image that I've seen of Galicia and to make it worse, I've had to go through this from the distance."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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