Madeira bus crash: Twenty-nine dead after tourist coach overturns on Portuguese island

Tom Batchelor
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Madeira bus crash: Twenty-nine dead after tourist coach overturns on Portuguese island

At least 29 people have died after a tourist bus overturned on Madeira, officials on the Portuguese island said.

A majority of the victims were German, local media reported, although the nationalities of those killed have yet to be announced officially.

Local mayor Filipe Sousa said the victims included 17 women and 11 men.

“There are fatalities but information on the number of victims is still not certain,” Mr Sousa said.

“I have no words to describe what happened. I cannot face the suffering of these people.”

The bus was carrying 55 people when it veered off a road on a bend east of the capital, Funchal, before rolling down a steep hillside.

Pedro Calado, vice president of Madeira’s regional government, told a news conference that the injured, including the Portuguese driver and a tour guide, were taken to a local hospital. He did not say whether anyone not on the bus was among the victims.

Firefighters told local news agency Lusa several others were wounded but did not give an exact figure.

According to Madeira’s Civil Protection agency, the accident happened at around 6.30pm (UK and local time).

A large emergency services response was quickly at the scene.

Authorities said they are investigating the possible cause. Local residents said the weather was fine at the time of the accident, which happened while it was still light.

Video footage of the bus after the crash showed it badly damaged and embedded in vegetation on a hillside of the Atlantic island, which has long been a popular holiday destination for British tourists.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said “terrible news is reaching us from Madeira”.

He said on Twitter “we are in deepest sorrow over all those who lost their lives in the bus crash. Our thoughts are with the injured.”

A British Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are seeking information from the authorities in Portugal about a bus crash in Madeira, and are ready to support any British people who require assistance.”