Last night at around 9.15 a bridge collapsed in northern Portugal as a bus loaded with day-trippers was crossing. The bus and two cars crashed 50 metres into the swollen waters of the river Douro below. 70 people are believed to be dead. The bus has not yet been found. The first reasons given for this accident were the torrential waters of the river Douro, swollen by heavy storms this weekend. The truth, however, is to be established in an enquiry and meanwhile, the Minister responsible for Public Works, Jorge Coelho, has already resigned, assuming full political responsibility for the incident. The bridge in question, Entre-os-Rios, links the councils of Castelo de Paiva and Penafiel, near the main northern city of Oporto. It was built in 1886 and the local Council and local Members of Parliament had repeatedly warned that a new bridge was needed. It is not clear from reports whether the new bridge was intended because the existing one was dangerous or because access to it was bad. The waters are currently flowing at a speed of 30 km. per hour, which makes it impossible for divers to work. A sound is reportedly being brought from Lisbon to search for the bus. The day-trippers had gone to see the almond trees in flower and were returning home when the tragedy happened. They were all local people and many whole families were believed to be on the bus. At present the Portuguese Prime Minister is in the area, together with his ex-minister, to face the local population. Only two bodies have so far been recuperated.


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