At least 29 passengers including 17 women were killed when a tourist bus carrying mostly Germans in their 40s and 50s veered off the road and rolled down a hillside near Canico in Madeira Island on Wednesday, national news agency Lusa reports.
TV images showed mangled remains of a large white bus with its entire roof gone and windscreen smashed resting precariously on its side against a home.
The bus was carrying around 55 passengers. Video footage showed rescuers helping injured passengers reach ambulances waiting on the road as several bodies lay scattered over the hillside facing the Atlantic.
The accident occurred around 6.30pm local time when the driver lost control of the bus at a junction.
Canico’s mayor, Filipe Sousa, said some locals could also be among the dead.
Police cordoned off the accident site and transferred the injured passengers to a hospital in Funchal, Madeira’s capital.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa expressed his nation’s sorrow and solidarity with the families of the accident victims.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa said he conveyed his “sadness to Chancellor Angela Merkel at this difficult time.”
The Madeira public prosecutor’s office said an investigation has been ordered into the accident.
Pedro Calado, the vice president of Madeira’s regional government, said it was too early to make a statement on the probable cause of the crash.
Madeira, often called the Pearl of the Atlantic, attracts more than a million tourists annually.