Lisbon: Twenty-nine German tourists were killed Wednesday when a bus crashed on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Televised images showed the bus had spun off the road, apparently having flipped several times, before crashing into a house at the bottom of a slope. The bus had been carrying around 50 passengers.
“Horrible news comes to us from Madeira,” a German government spokesman tweeted after the crash. “Our deep sorrow goes to all those who lost their lives in the bus accident, our thoughts are with the injured,” he added.
Filipe Sousa, mayor of Santa Cruz where the accident happened, said 17 women and 11 men were killed in the crash, with another 21 injured. A doctor told reporters another woman died of her injuries in hospital.
“I express the sorrow and solidarity of all the Portuguese people in this tragic moment, and especially for the families of the victims who I have been told were all German,” President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told Portuguese television.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Twitter that he had contacted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to convey his condolences. “It is with profound sadness that I heard of the accident on Madeira,” Costa wrote on the government’s Twitter page. “I took the occasion to convey my sadness to Chancellor Angela Merkel at this difficult time,” he added.
Regional government Vice-President Pedro Calado said it was ‘premature’ to speculate on the cause of the crash. He said that the vehicle was five years old and that ‘everything had apparently been going well’. He also informed that judicial authorities had opened an investigation into the circumstances of the accident.
Often called the Pearl of the Atlantic, Madeira hosts thousands of tourists each year, attracted to its subtropical climate and rugged volcanic terrain.