Nine dead, 14 hurt in Portuguese tour bus crash in Morocco

8th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Nine Portuguese tourists were killed and 14 injured when their tour bus plunged into a ravine in northern Morocco on Wednesday, the interior ministry said.

Eight of the dead in the accident near the border with the Spanish enclave of Ceuta were female, including a teenager, and one of the injured was a Moroccan guide, medical sources added.

"It was very foggy and drizzling," a witness said. "The coach skidded and fell into a ravine."

A Spanish government representative in Ceuta told AFP the bus was carrying Portuguese tourists who arrived on Wednesday morning in the enclave on a cruise ship.

Witnesses quoted by Portuguese media said it was in a convoy of buses when the accident happened some 15 kilometres (ten miles) from Ceita.

The injured were ferried to hospitals in Tetouan, Fnideq and M'diq, near Ceuta, the Moroccan police said, adding that the driver of the bus was among them.

A spokesman for the Lisbon-based tour operators, Classic International Cruises, told Portuguese Sic television that 44 tourists were aboard the bus when it crashed at 0645 GMT.

It was also carrying the Spanish driver, a Moroccan guide and a representative of the tour company, spokesman Nuno Fonseca said.

The bus belonged to a company in Ceuta, where the cruiseliner Funchal had docked with some 400 Portuguese tourists aboard.

With its 15th century cathedral and duty-free shopping, Ceuta is a popular destination for cruise ships and day trippers from mainland Spain and neighbouring Portugal.

Ceuta, along with twin enclave Melilla, enjoys a status similar to Spain's other autonomous areas such as the Basque region and Catalonia.

© 2010 AFP

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