A 15-year-old pupil of Faro’s Escola Pinheiro e Rosa was killed this morning when the bus she was travelling on with fellow pupils was hit by a truck on its way into Budapeste, Hungary.
Another pupil, a boy, was seriously injured, say reports, and has been rushed to hospital.
The remaining four students on the Erasmus+ exchange programme have been described as “fine”, as have their two teachers.
The accident happened a little after 4am.
According to diplomatic sources, the children, students of the 10th year, and their teachers were on their home to Portugal, heading for the airport.
The bus they were in is described as having hit a truck.
One report (SIC television) suggests the truck actually hit the back of the bus – but photographs uploaded by Hungarian police show damage to the bus’s left-side.
Some reports describe the road the bus was travelling on as a motorway, others say it was “sinuous”.
News flashes picked up from Hungary suggest the 16-year-old was ‘killed immediately’.
Secretary of State for the Communities José Luís Carneiro has confirmed the fatality, stressing the Portuguese embassy in Hungary is accompanying the situation closely.
The rest of the school-party is expected to return to Portugal today.
Parents of the victims have been informed and are being offered psychological support.
Algarve website Sulinformação has managed to speak to the school’s director who has flown to Poland on his way to Hungary.
Francisco Soares told reporter Hugo Rodrigues that he is “trying to deal with all the necessary details” but was too upset to say much more.
“I am really shaken by all this”, he told Rodrigues.
Right now the priority is the families of the two victims. Later, he said, psychological support will be extended to the other pupils involved and their teachers.
A report on Hungarian news website Blikk describes the accident as involving “a foreign-marked minibus and a vehicle equipped with a tractor unit”.
The minibus had set off from Romania, which is apparently where the exchange programme was being run.
For now, there have been no details on names (see update below), or on the injuries suffered by the student being treated in hospital. He is described as “continuing in hospital but free from danger”.
Algarve MP Cristóvão Norte has just uploaded a tribute over Facebook naming the dead teen as Laura Bragança.
His message translates as: My condolences for the death of Laura Bragança in a tragic accident in Budapest. A very young girl who has had her life interrupted. My heartfelt wishes go to her family members, friends and the entire school community of Pinheiro e Rosa”.