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Four Portuguese men die in horror smash

78 people have now lost their lives on Northern Ireland's roads this year
78 people have now lost their lives on Northern Ireland's roads this year
Police officers at the scene of the crash in which four Portuguese men died

BY Margaret Canning and Rebecca Black

Four Portuguese men thought to be on holiday in Ireland were among five fatalities on Northern Ireland’s roads over the weekend.

They were in a southern-registered Ford Focus which was in collision with a lorry at a railway bridge on Tandragee Road outside Newry at around 5pm.

It is understood that the car had been hired by the men in Dublin to drive up to Northern Ireland to visit friends and family.

Work at the scene continued into night-time. A priest from nearby St Mary’s Church in Barr was called to give last rites to the men.

A friend who was also travelling in their car survived the crash. He was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital where his condition was described as serious but stable. He was to be transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital last night.

Ulster Unionist assembly member Danny Kennedy said he was “dreadfully sorry” about the deaths of the four men.

“Their families and friends are in my thoughts at this absolutely dreadful time and I send them condolences on behalf of my party.

“Our thoughts and prayers are also with the lorry driver, who has experienced a terrible life-changing event, and another man who was injured.”

SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley also extended his sympathy. He added: “People in the area are shocked about this horrific and tragic accident. Once again it’s a reminder of the dangers that are always present on our roads.”

The cause of the accident is being investigated by police. But Sinn Fein councillor Charlie Casey said the location of the accident was known as a difficult bend to negotiate.

“Unless someone knows the lay of the land around there, they could be at risk. Because of this accident, four families have some very difficult times ahead of them.”

Meanwhile, a 47-year-old motorcyclist died yesterday of injuries suffered when his bike was in collision with a van near Omagh on Saturday.

He was travelling along the Barony Road between Omagh and Cookstown when a blue Mercedes van collided with his black Kawasaki motorcycle around 1.20pm.

Their deaths bring to 78 the lives lost on the province’s road this year, compared to 73 in the same period last year.

Two women were fighting for their lives in hospital after other crashes, including one involving four young people on their way to a football match.

Their car left the road close to Tempo, Co Fermanagh, at around 8.50am yesterday.

A 26-year-old woman is understood to be in a very serious condition in hospital while two 25-year-old men and a 24-year-old woman were injured. The crash happened near the Imeroo crossroads on the Glengesh Road.

It is believed the young people were from Beragh in Co Tyrone and were travelling to Dublin to watch the All-Ireland Gaelic football semi-final between Tyrone and Cork.

Sinn Fein Fermanagh councillor Pat Cox said he understood their car had hit a patch of water on the road. “There was very heavy rain in the area the night before and parts of that road were flooded because of it,” he said.

“The local community here are all very concerned for them. Our thoughts are with their families and we hope they all make a good recovery.”

Meanwhile a 42-year-old woman is in critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital after she was hit by a lorry on Victoria Road in the Waterside, Londonderry, at around 10.30am on Saturday. Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed any of these accidents to contact them.

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