At least 29 people are reported to have died after a coach went off the road in a hotel district on the holiday island of Madeira.
The coach was heading to Funchal, the island’s capital, and was carrying 55 passengers and a guide when it careered off the road near the town of Canico.
Filipe Sousa, the mayor of the nearby town of Santa Cruz, said 12 men and 17 women died in the crash – the majority of whom were German nationals.
Another 22 were injured in the accident, according to the Portuguese national news agency Lusa.
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Drone footage shows the wreckage of the tourist bus which rolled onto its side after falling off the road on Wednesday evening
A team of emergency service personnel work to help an elderly passenger up the hill which to the mountain road the bus tumbled down from
The mayor of a local town said there were 29 fatalities from the horror bus crash on Wednesday evening and several more injured
Firefighters working to free the victims from the wreckage of the toppled bus on Wednesday as emergency services rushed to treat the survivors
The driver and the guide, who are both Portuguese, were hurt in the crash but it is not yet known how seriously they were injured.
Local reports said the driver lost control of the vehicle on a bend, careered off the road and crashed onto the top of a house.
The bus overturned after falling off the winding mountain road near a remote hotel – the Quinta Splendida Wellness & Botanical Garden.
The passengers were believed to be on their way for a meal at the time of the accident.
A receptionist at the hotel, confirmed the bus had crashed nearby but said none of the hotel guests had been involved.
Emergency services were first contacted at around 6.30pm local time and at least fourteen ambulances attended the crash site.
A massive cordon has been set up, while shocked locals have gathered nearby.
Distressing video showed the walking wounded being helped away from the scene by emergency responders. Several survivors were sat by the side of the road.
Mayor Sousa said: ‘I have no words to describe what happened. I cannot face the suffering of these people.’
Dramatic images showed the overturned bus on its side among a row of houses having fallen off the edge of a winding road
A blood-soaked passenger receives emergency medical assistance from doctors near the site of the devastating crash on Wednesday
The roof of the bus could be seen to have ripped off during the impact as rescuers removed bodies from the wreckage
Regional MP Roberto Almada described the area where the coach went off the road as an ‘accident blackspot’.
He said: ‘This is an area that is relatively close to the town of Canixo.
‘Before the spot where the coach went off the road, there’s a very sharp bend that goes from west to east and there’s been many accidents there in the past.
‘It’s a very difficult area for drivers, especially drivers of larger vehicles.’
Although it was initially announced Portuguese President Marcelo de Sousa would travel to Madeira on a military jet, it later emerged the trip had been suspended for the time being because the plane was needed to transport casualties.
He told journalists: ‘The priority is to treat victims, not my trip to Madeira.’
The president of the Government of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque, said in a statement: ‘The president of the Regional Government, Miguel Albuquerque, and the Regional Government, are saddened by the accident with a bus in Caniço, which has killed several foreign nationals, and is now ready to address the condolences to all the relatives of the victims.’
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) added: ‘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.’
Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa tweeted: ‘It was with profound regret that I had learned of the tragic accident in Madeira. All the families involved transmit, on behalf of the Portuguese Government, the most felt condolences.
‘I also want to send a word of consternation and support to the Madeirans. I have also had the opportunity to convey the vow of grief to Chancellor Angela Merkel at this difficult time.’
Ambulances lined up along the mountain road above the crash site and treated passengers before taking them to hospital in Funchal
Shocked locals could be seen standing near the crash site on their phones as emergency services battled to clear the crash site
The coach was said to have toppled from a winding mountain road after the driver allegedly lost control
Emergency services formed a cordon around the crash site while they attempted to recover passengers throughout Wednesday evening