The Latest: German military plane on standby for Madeira
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Latest on the deadly bus crash on Portuguese island of Madeira (all times local):
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff says a German military medevac plane is on stand-by and could be sent to Madeira to bring those affected by Wednesday's bus crash back to Germany.
Helge Braun told reporters in Berlin on Thursday that the identities and exact number of German citizens among the 29 killed on the Portuguese island is still unclear.
But Braun said "we have information that it was a travel group composed mainly of German holidaymakers."
He said information on the victims would only be released once relatives have been informed.
Germany's foreign minister says he will fly to Portugal's island of Madeira with a team of doctors, psychologists and consular officials to assist those affected by the deadly crash of a tour bus carrying mostly Germany tourists Wednesday.
Heiko Maas said in a statement Thursday that it's still unclear how many German citizens were among the 29 killed and dozens injured in the crash.
Maas said the German ambassador in Lisbon has already arrived in Madeira and diplomats are "working hard together with local officials" to get clarity about the circumstances of the crash.
He said a crisis management team has been set up in Berlin and on Madeira, and a hotline is available for concerned relatives.
A hospital official on Portugal's Madeira Island says authorities expect to identify by Saturday the victims of a tour bus crash that killed 29 people.
Tomasia Alves, head of the Funchal hospital, told a news conference Thursday that of the 28 people injured in the accident, nine have been discharged from hospital. She says two of the injured are a Portuguese man and woman but provided no further details.
The bus that veered off a road and rolled down a steep hill Wednesday evening was carrying German tourists, as well as a Portuguese driver and guide.
Authorities haven't specified whether there were casualties among people on the road or at the roadside at the time.
Alves says the victims were roughly between 40 and 60 years old and included no children.
The island is a popular European vacation destination.
Authorities on Portugal's Madeira Island have removed a tour bus from the hillside where it crashed, killing 29 people and injuring 28, many of them German tourists.
Local media report that rescue services used two cranes early Thursday to pull out the bus, which was carrying 55 people when it went off the road and rolled down a hill.
The wall of a house, which appeared to halt the bus's fall Wednesday evening, was smashed in. Parts of the bus, including seats, and items of clothing litter the hillside.
The tourists reportedly were staying at the Quinta Splendida, a hotel set in a botanical garden, with rooms in a restored 19th-century manor house.
Portuguese authorities have not yet identified the victims by name or nationality.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expressing "sadness and shock" over the bus crash that killed many of her compatriots on Portugal's Madeira island.
In a statement Thursday, Merkel voiced "sincere sympathy for all of the families who have lost their loved ones in this tragedy."
At least 29 people were killed when a bus veered off the road and toppled down a hill Wednesday. Most are reported to be German tourists.
Merkel said she hoped those injured and their relatives would be able to recover from the physical and psychological injuries, and thanked Portuguese emergency responders "who were working under difficult circumstances at the site of the crash."
Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas said "we must assume that there are many Germans among the victims."
A German pastor working on Madeira is praising the medics who cared for the survivors of the bus crash on the Portuguese island that killed 29 people.
Ilse Everlien Berardo told German broadcaster n-tv Thursday the survivors she spoke to were "very calm. Of course, they were in a state of shock."
The bus carrying 55 people, many of them vacationers from Germany, rolled down a steep hillside Wednesday after veering off the road on a bend east of the capital, Funchal, striking at least one house.
Berardo said the "the nurses and doctors were really touching in the way they dealt with the people."
Berardo said she spoke to one woman who thought she might have lost her partner, adding. "what I can do is hold their hand and show them they're not alone."