A tour bus crash on the Portuguese island of Madeira Wednesday has killed 29 people and injured 28, many of them German tourists, a local official said.
Canico Mayor Filipe Sousa told media outlets they were killed when the bus rolled down a steep hillside and struck at least one house after veering off a highway east of the capital, Funchal. Public broadcaster RTP reported that 22 others were taken to a hospital in Funchal with injuries "of various severities."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday morning expressed "sadness and shock", offering her "sincere sympathy for all of the families who have lost their loved ones in this tragedy".
Pedro Calado, the vice president of Madeira's regional government, told a news conference that the injured included the Portuguese driver and a local tour guide. He did not say whether anyone not on the bus was among the victims.
Sousa said the bus was carrying 55 people. Local television showed bodies scattered over the rural hillside next to the Atlantic Ocean.
The cause of the accident was not immediately known. People living in the area said the weather was fine at the time of the crash, which unfolded in daylight in the early evening.
Madeira, approximately 600 miles northwest of the Moroccan coast, has been an autonomous region of Portugal since 1976. It is a popular vacation spot for many Europeans.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in a tweet that he had sent condolences to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I learned of this tragic accident in Madeira with deep sorrow," he said.
Merkel's spokesman said "terrible news is reaching us from Madeira." Steffen Seibert said on Twitter that "we are in deepest sorrow over all those who lost their lives in the bus crash." He added: "Our thoughts are with the injured."
Germany's foreign ministry said its embassy in Portugal's capital, Lisbon, was in contact with local authorities in Madeira. Seibert said the government has set up a telephone hotline for people worried about family members.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.