CANIÇO: The Portuguese island of Madeira began three days of mourning on Thursday after 29 German tourists died when their bus spun off the road and tumbled down a slope before crashing into a house.
Drone footage showed the mangled wreckage resting precariously on its side against a building on a hillside near the town of Canico, the vehicle’s roof partially crushed and front window smashed, reports AFP.Rescue workers attended to injured passengers in the undergrowth where the bus came to a halt, some of them bearing bloodied head bandages and bloodstained clothes, others appearing to be more seriously hurt.
Local authorities said most of the dead were in their 40s and 50s. There were 11 men and 18 women were among the victims and all of them were German.
They were among the more than one million tourists who visit the Atlantic islands off the coast of Morocco each year, attracted by their subtropical climate and rugged volcanic terrain.
“It is with sadness and dismay that I think of our compatariots and all the other people affected by the terrible bus accident in Madeira,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement.
“My sincere condolences go above all to those families that have lost loved ones in this tragedy,” she added, thanking the Portuguese emergency services for their efforts.
The 50-odd tourists had left their hotel and were on their way to the regional capital Funchal for dinner when the accident occurred on Wednesday. Prosecutors have opened a probe and the vice-president of the regional government Pedro Calado said it was “premature” to attribute the cause of the accident.