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Devastating Bus Crash in Portugal Kills 29 Tourists

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Madeira Island, Portugal ― A tour bus crashed on Wednesday killing 29 people and injuring 28 others, local authorities said. 

The bus carrying 55 mostly German tourists veered off the road and down a steep hill crashing into a house, local mayor Filipe Sousa told cable news channel SIC. 

Local television showed bodies scattered over a rural hillside next to the Atlantic Ocean.

"I have no words to describe what happened. I cannot face the suffering of these people,"

The tragic accident took place near a botanical garden in the hotel district in Canixo, which is a quiet coastal community in the south-east of Madeira. 

The cause of the crash, which happened in daylight in the early evening on Wednesday, was not immediately clear.

A regional civil protection official said the tourists that were involved in the accident were between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. Germany's Bild daily reported that many of the tourists were retirees, and those killed included 18 women and 11 men. 

The cause of the accident is still being investigated by authorities. SIC Television said there were 19 ambulances reported to have been at the scene which was next to Quinta Splendida Wellness & Botanical Garden.  

Prime Minister Antonio Costa of Portugal said in a tweet that he had sent condolences to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. “I learned of this tragic accident in Madeira with deep sorrow,” he said.

Madeira, off northwestern Africa, is a popular vacation destination for Europeans because of its mild subtropical  climate. The main island off the northwest coast of Africa is volcanic, green and rugged, with high cliffs, pebbly beaches and settlements on deltas of the Fajã River. 

The capital of Madeira, Funchal has botanic gardens and is known for its harbor and a large New Year's fireworks show.