Falling tree kills 11 at Portuguese religious ceremony

Nearly a dozen people died Tuesday when a tree fell and crashed onto a crowded square during a religious ceremony on the Portuguese island of Madeira.


Eleven people were killed and at least 35 were injured as the large tree fell as onlookers awaited a street procession from a church near Funchal, the resort island’s capital.

The procession — which brings thousands of tourists — is part of the Festa da Senhora do Monte, or the Lady of the Mount.
Firefighters were called to the scene and several people were hospitalized with bone fractures and head injuries.

Two of those who died are children, broadcaster RTP said. Witnesses said the tree was old and had a hollow trunk, and had been tied together for at least two years. It was in a crowded area where ceremonial candles were being sold, The Telegraph reported.

Nossa Senhora do Monta is regarded as Madeira’s patron saint, and the festival is viewed as the island’s most important annual event and biggest party.

Many of Portugal’s and Madeira’s political leaders and legislators were present.