Four Portuguese were killed in a horrific accident in France over the weekend as they returned to their lives abroad after the festive season.
The communities of Vila Nova de Foz Coa and Vale de Sousa are in mourning today over the loss of ‘good people’ who emigrated in order to make a better life.
But as the bodies of the dead are being prepared for transport back home for burial, Secretary of State for the Communities José Luís Carneiro is in Lyon to visit the Portuguese nationals who escaped but remain in hospital with injuries.
These are two adults and the three-year-old son of one of the people killed.
Little Gabriel Vieira is said to be in a serious condition with injuries to his lungs, writes Correio da Manhã in a double-page spread which puts the tragedy down to ‘ice on the road’.
The accident happened at 3.28am on Sunday (Portuguese time) just 300 kms from the journey’s destination: Fribourg in Switzerland.
The owner of the bus company involved has told journalists that his son was the driver, and that speaking to him after the accident, ice was given as the cause.
Nevertheless, the highway in question is predictably dubbed by locals as “the road of death”.
According to CM, there are speed restrictions of 90 km/h on many stretches, and just one lane in either direction. “Drivers say it is a monotonous road”, the paper adds, while counsellor for the Portuguese Communities Manuel Cardia has told journalists that a number of survivors have attested to the icy conditions, saying they actually slipped as they got out of the bus after the accident.
As for the bus, it was “completely destroyed”.
CM adds that the dead passengers - three women and one man - had all been “projected” from the bus as it came off the road, and were not wearing seatbelts.
“Minutes after the accident” another bus is reported to have lost control, again due to the icy conditions, said the paper.