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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Tree falls on worshippers in Madeira killing 12 and injuring 50

The accident happened while worshippers were attending a festival celebrating the island’s patron saint

Firefighters cover victims of a tree that toppled into worshipping crowds during a religious festival in Funchal, Madeira island, Portugal. Duarte Sa/ Reuters
Firefighters cover victims of a tree that toppled into worshipping crowds during a religious festival in Funchal, Madeira island, Portugal. Duarte Sa/ Reuters

A tree which fell on worshippers at a Catholic festival in Madeira, Portugal has killed 12 people and left 50 injured, officials said.

The incident occurred on Tuesday during a festival in Funchal celebrating the Portuguese island’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Mount.

Health secretary of the local government in Madeira Pedro Ramos said that 10 people died in the immediate aftermath of the collapse and another two died in hospital. Some of the injured were tourists from Germany and France.

Portugal’s prime minister, Antonio Costa, tweeted: “I express my condolences to the victims of the accident in Madeira. My thoughts are with the relatives and friends of the victims.”

"It was terrible, it was so sudden," Xavier Nunes, an eyewitness, told SIC television. Portuguese media said the tree was rotten and had been supported by a metal cable.

Portugal has seen a number of disasters this summer. Earlier this month, two sunbathers were killed when a plane made an emergency landing on a beach and in June forest fires killed 64 people.

At least four people were killed in Madeira last summer when forest fires raged across the island.

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