Twelve people crushed to death by falling tree at religious festival on island of Madeira

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Twelve people have been crushed to death by a falling tree during a religious festival on the island of Madeira.

Officials have said 12 people died and another 52 were injured in the horror incident involving Christians at the Festa da Senhora do Monte,

The festival attracts visitors from around the world.

It is thought the tree fell on people who were queuing to buy candles to celebrate the festival.

Local media reports said that the tree was an oak that was more than 200 years old. 

Emergency workers gather at the scene where people were killed by the falling tree (EPA)

Regional health chief Pedro Ramos said that seven people had serious injuries.

Ramos said that of the 12 fatalities, 10 people died at the site of the accident. A child died en route to a local hospital, where another woman also perished. 

Miguel Albuquerque, the head of the regional government of Madeira, declared three days of mourning for the victims. 

Prime Minister Antonio Costa shared his condolences for the victims on his Twitter account. 

“I express my condolences for the victims of the accident in Madeira,” Costa said. “My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims.” 

Madeira: Firefighters work to secure the site where the large tree fell (EPA)

Costa said that the central government made contact with local authorities on the island to offer its support. 

“The government has provided medical support given the high number of victims,” he said.

Footage shows emergency service workers gathered under a group of tall trees in the area.

The Nossa Senhora do Monte festival is the island’s biggest annual festivity. 

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