At least 28 people have been killed after a coach crashed off of a road on the island of Madeira.
The vehicle was carrying 55 passengers and a guide when it crashed on a winding mountain road near the Quinta Splendida Wellness & Botanical Garden hotel.
Pictures from the scene showed the vehicle on its side.
The alarm was raised around 6.30pm local time, with mayor Filipe Sousa confirming: ‘There are dead but it is not clear how many.’
A receptionist at the hotel confirmed the incident had happened very near to the hotel but said it did not involve any hotel guests.
The coasch had been on its way to Funchal when the incident took place.
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.
Mr Sousa later confirmed 28 people had died – 11 men and 17 women.
All of the victims were German.
The coach, which belonged to a Madeiran firm, had reportedly been chartered by a travel firm on the holiday island called Travel One.
The driver and the guide, who are both Portuguese, were injured but it is not known if they are among the three people described as seriously injured.
A local journalist said in an interview with Portuguese TV station SIC soon after news of the accident emerged that investigators were looking at a possible mechanical failure and hinted at a problem with the brakes.
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.’
Additional reporting by Natalia Penza.