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At least 28 dead after tourist bus plunges down hillside in Madeira

The wreckage of the tourist bus that crashed in Canico, on the Portuguese island of Madeira
The wreckage of the tourist bus that crashed in Canico, on the Portuguese island of Madeira
Firefighters help victims
One of the injured passengers is taken for treatment on a stretcher

By PA Reporters

Twenty-eight people were reported dead last night after a bus carrying tourists crashed on the holiday island of Madeira.

Local mayor Filipe Sousa told a Portuguese news channel the victims included 17 women and 11 men.

Firefighters told local news agency Lusa several others were wounded, but did not give an exact figure.

"I have no words to describe what happened. I cannot face the suffering of these people," he told broadcaster SIC TV.

He said most of those on board were German tourists and it is not yet known whether any other nationalities were involved in the accident.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "We are seeking information from the authorities in Portugal about a bus crash in Madeira, and are ready to support any British people who require assistance."

The bus was carrying 55 people when it veered off a road near the town of Canico on a bend east of the capital, Funchal, before rolling down a steep hillside, Mr Sousa said.

It came to rest near houses.

Video footage of the bus after the crash showed it badly damaged and embedded in vegetation on a hillside of the Atlantic island, which has long been a popular holiday destination for British tourists.

Authorities said they are investigating the possible cause.

Local residents said the weather was fine at the time of the accident, which happened while it was still light, in the early evening.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was last night flying to the scene.

According to Madeira's Civil Protection agency, the accident happened at around 6.30pm (UK and local time).

A large emergency services response was at the scene.

A spokesman for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said "terrible news is reaching us from Madeira".

Steffen Seibert said on Twitter "we are in deepest sorrow over all those who lost their lives in the bus crash".

He added: "Our thoughts are with the injured."

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