12 killed as tree falls during religious fest in Portugal

Lisbon, (IANS) Twelve persons were killed and 50 others injured when a large tree fell on people celebrating the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption outside the capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Regional Health Secretary Pedro Ramos on Tuesday said that a minor was among the fatalities, adding that officials’ priority is providing medical care to the injured and support to the families of the dead, Efe news reported.

Seven of the injured were said to be in serious condition. Those hurt include people from Germany, Hungary and France.

Several hundred people were waiting for the ceremony to begin in the main square of the village of Monte when the centuries-old tree toppled onto them.

Ramos praised emergency services personnel for their “effective, fast and excellent” response, noting that the first ambulance carrying the injured reached the hospital in Funchal just 11 minutes after the tree fell.

Monte is located on the outskirts of Funchal, the capital of Madeira, and the feast attracts thousands every year.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa offered condolences, while President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa boarded a plane for Madeira.

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