Bus Carrying Tourists Crashes in Portugal; At Least 29 Reported Dead

A tour bus has crashed in Portugal, killing at least 29 people and injuring dozens, authorities said.

The incident occurred Wednesday evening on the island of Madeira, a vacation destination known as the pearl of the Atlantic. The bus swerved off a winding street in the coastal town of Caniço and then tumbled down a hill. Many of the victims are German citizens, whose identities have not yet been made public.

By Thursday morning, nine people who had been injured in the crash were discharged from a local hospital, according to Lusa News Agency, while 18 remained in care.

A Portuguese man and woman are among the injured, Tomasia Alves, head of the Funchal hospital, told reporters on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

Heiko Maas, Germany's minister of foreign affairs, announced that he would fly to Madeira on Thursday with doctors, psychologists and consular officers. He planned to speak to people who had been affected by the crash. The office also had set up a hotline for families.

Photographs from the scene show ambulances parked near the wrecked vehicle and rescue works helping wounded passengers on the lush hillside.

Many of the victims were said to be between 40 and 50 years old.

"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," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement posted on Twitter by spokesman Steffen Seibert‏.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa expressed his regrets to the families and said he conveyed his condolences to Merkel.

Authorities have launched an investigation into the crash. Pedro Calado, the vice president of the island's regional government, told reporters that the bus was five years old and had passed inspections, according to AP.

The company that owns the vehicle, Madeira Automobile Society, reportedly vowed its "deep commitment" to uncovering the "facts, causes and responsibilities" that led to the fatal bus ride.

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