Friday, September 10, 2010

Bus tragedy in Morocco

Sad news this week, that nine Portuguese tourists were killed and fourteen injured when their tour bus plunged into a ravine near the border of the Spanish held territory of Sebta in northern Morocco. According to a report by the interior ministry, the tragedy occurred on Wednesday.

Eight of the dead in the accident were female, including a teenager, and one of the injured was a Moroccan guide.

According to a witness weather conditions may well have contributed, "It was very foggy and drizzling. The coach skidded and fell into a ravine," the witness said.

A Spanish government representative in Sebta stated that 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 Sebta.

The injured were ferried to hospitals in Tetouan, Fnideq and M'diq, near Sebta, 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 Sebta, where the cruiseliner Funchal had docked with some 400 Portuguese tourists aboard.With its 15th century cathedral and duty-free shopping, Sebta is a popular destination for cruise ships and day trippers from mainland Spain and neighbouring Portugal.

Sebta, along with twin enclave Melilla, is seen by Morocco as part of its territory although at present it has a status similar to Spain's other autonomous areas such as the Basque region and Catalonia.

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