Grainy video footage, broadcast by Portuguese TV media, shows the heart- stopping seconds the white vehicle hurtles down the steep hill before coming to rest on its side in a cloud of dust. The death toll from the crash reached 29 overnight after one of the casualties died in hospital. Another 28 were injured. Most of the dead were German holidaymakers aged 50 to 70.
The crash on Madeira Island happened at about 6.30pm BST (6.30pm local time) when the driver lost control of the coach at a bend, reports say. Local mayor Filipe Sousa said the mainly German victims included 17 women and 11 men. The nationalities of other passengers and injured are still not known.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told SIC TV that some of the victims were from Madeira as well as Germany.
Some pedestrians are feared to have been hit by the bus.
There are no current indications any Britons were caught up in the crash.
A top-level inquiry into the accident has been announced by Portuguese authorities, with investigators due to look into a possible mechanical failure as the cause.
Local reports have hinted at potential problems with the brakes on the five-year-old vehicle, although there has been no official comment.
Regional authorities have declared three days of mourning starting from today.
A second group of holidaymakers, said to include friends and relatives of the dead, was in another coach following the one that careered off the road.
The crash occurred near a botanical garden in the quiet coastal town of Canico at the south-eastern end of Madeira Island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Canico, based in the Santa Cruz municipality, is known for its steep hills and pebble beaches.
Santa Cruz boasts miles of pretty coastline with sandy beaches and clear waters.
The area is laid back with picturesque villas and churches perched on the hills above the Atlantic Ocean.
Santa Cruz is 30 minutes away from the town centre of the regional capital, Funchal, and a five-minute drive away from Funchal Airport.
The coach was heading to the Funchal at the time of the crash and was carrying 55 passengers and a guide.
Maderia Island is an autonomous region of Portugal located off Africa’s northwest coast.
The area is celebrated for its rugged landscape and beautiful beaches.
Maderia is an archipelago of four islands in total, first discovered in 1419 by Portuguese explorers hoping to expand the country’s territory.
Settlers arrived in 1425, and the region has since become an important trading post.
The name Funchal derives from the fennel plant, Foeniculum vulgare.
Reports at the time stated fennel was abundance when early settlers arrived, although sugar later became main export.
Additional reporting by Natalia Penza.
Source: Read Full Article