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German tourists killed in Madeira bus crash

April 17, 2019

Authorities say 29 people have died after a bus carrying German tourists crashed in the popular tourist archipelago of Madeira. Dozens of others, including the driver and tour guide, have been taken to a local hospital.

The site of the Madeira bus crash
Image: Getty Images/AFP/R. Silva

At least 29 people, all of them German nationals, died in a tourist bus accident on the Portuguese island of Madeira on Wednesday.

The bus carrying 55 people rolled down a steep hillside after veering off the road on a bend in Canico. The crash injured at least 28 more. All of the tourists in the bus were German.

Authorities said 28 of the victims died on scene, while another died in hospital. The injured include the reportedly experienced driver and a guide. The group were reportedly booked through the same booking agency and were mostly aged 40 to 60 years old. 

Other members of the same group of German tourists were traveling in another bus, which was not involved in the accident, a regional civil protection spokesman told reporters.

SAM, the transport company which owns the 6-year-old bus, said late Wednesday it will work with authorities to determine the cause of the crash.

"It's our will and our determination that all the facts, reasons and responsibilities surrounding the accident are investigated," SAM wrote in a statement cited by Portuguese news agency Lusa.

By mid morning on Thursday, workers had finished clearing the scene of the accident.

Confirmation from Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her condolences for the victims of the crash. "It's with sadness and dismay that I think of our compatriots and all the other people who were affected by the terrible bus accident on Madeira," Merkel said in a statement shared on Twitter by her spokesman.

Merkel thanked local emergency workers and doctors and said Germany's Foreign Ministry was working with local officials to support those affected and work out the cause of the accident.

She wished those injured a swift recovery from the physical and psychological injuries.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also sent his condolences.

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed on Twitter that German tourists were among the victims.

"We are shocked to learn of the tragic bus accident in Madeira. Unfortunately, we have to assume that there are victims from Germany. Our sympathies go out to their families and friends," the tweet read, which also had the number of a hotline with a Berlin area code.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa sent a message of condolences to German Chancellor Angela Merkel "at this difficult time."

His government later confirmed all those killed were Germans.

Madeira is a four-island archipelago located 935 kilometers (581 miles) off the coast of Morocco. It is one of two autonomous regions of Portugal — the Azores being the other — and attracts more than a million tourists annually.

aw, msh, dv/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)

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