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28 dead after tourist bus plunges off road in Madeira (PHOTO,VIDEO)

28 dead after tourist bus plunges off road in Madeira (PHOTO,VIDEO)
A bus carrying over 50 tourists on the Portuguese island of Madeira overturned and slid down a hill. Local media report as many as 28 fatalities, and there are fears that number may rise.

The bus slid off the road and crashed on top of a house around 6:30 pm local time, near the town of Caniço in the municipality of Santa Cruz, on the southeastern side of the island.

Videos from the scene show the wreckage of the white bus on a roadside slope, with rescue crews trying to extract the passengers.

“There are fatalities but information on the number of victims is still not certain,” Filipe Sousa, head of the municipality of Santa Cruz, told the Lusa news agency.

However, Sousa later told the Lisbon-based Jornal de Negocios that 11 men and 17 women, all German tourists, were dead. There were 57 people on the bus, including 55 tourists, a tour guide, and the driver.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is on his way to the island to visit the crash site, Lusa agency reported. The German embassy in Portugal said it has reached out to local authorities, but declined to confirm the casualty figures just yet.

More than a dozen ambulances and other rescue vehicles are to the scene, near the Quinta Splendida hotel and botanical gardens in Caniço. Rescuers continue to pull victims out of the broken-up bus, amid fears that the death toll might rise.

This is the worst bus accident on the island in over 13 years. Five Italian tourists died in a 2005 bus crash in São Vicente, on Madeira’s north coast.

Located in the mid-Atlantic, off the coast of Africa, the Madeira archipelago is a popular tourist destination, with over a million visits every year. It was settled by the Portuguese in the XV century, and it is famous as the birthplace of soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

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