HORROR CRASH ON COSTA LEAVES NINE DEAD

Nine Finnish tourists – six women, two men and a seven-year-old girl – were killed in a coach crash near Benalmadena last Saturday at around 7.30 pm. All the remaining 38 were injured, 22 of them seriously. They were ferried by fleets of ambulances to local hospitals and clinics. Officials warned the death toll could rise. The bus was taking the party of Finnish tourists to the airport to catch their home-bound flight. It was travelling along the centre lane when a 4×4 tried to overtake it at high speed on the right. The 4×4, a Kia, bounced off the safety barrier for an as yet unknown reason and into the coach, which overturned and slid along the road till it blocked all three lanes. The accident happened on a slight upward curve with good visibility, but it was raining and windy at the time. A signal forbidding overtaking on the curve is clearly visible. The driver of the jeep and his passenger were unhurt. Witnesses said when he got out of the vehicle, he calmly lit a cigarette. A breathalyser test later showed he was twice over the limit and he was immediately arrested by the Guardia Civil who, at the time of going to press, had still not announced the charges against him. The emergency services immediately set up a field hospital at the scene of the crash, while firemen removed the bodies and helped survivors out of the coach’s front window and a trap door on the roof. The most seriously injured, including a boy, were taken by 16 ambulances to several hospitals, including the Costa del Sol in Marbella, and the Materno Infantil, the Carlos Haya, the Clínico Universitario and the Hospital Civil in Malaga. The slightly injured were taken to the health centres in Benalmádena and Torremolinos. The bus was towed away just before 9.30 pm, leaving a traffic jam up to eight kilometres long blocking the highway into Malaga. It was the most serious accident involving a coach full of passengers since November 14th, 2001, when 20 pensioners died and 22 were injured when their coach went off the road in Villarrasa, Huelva province.

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