Bus crash tragedies: both drivers “felt unwell” seconds before fatal accidents

As inquiries look in to the reasons for two bus crashes that caused seven deaths in the space of two days, reports point to both drivers “feeling unwell” minutes before losing control and plunging off respective motorways.

While bus owners Grupo Barraqueiro had said “unfortunately, accidents do happen”, a source for the drivers’ union Fectrans has spoken out against “excessive” work schedules which, in effect, break the law.

Talking to national tabloid Correio da Manhã on Saturday, Fernando Fidalgo said: “After a day of work, drivers should rest for at least ten hours, which in the majority of cases doesn’t happen”.

As in the case of the first driver to career off the A22 motorway near Albufeira on Wednesday night, killing three passengers outright and injuring 32 more – one of which later died in hospital – Joaquim Matos, of Loures, near Lisbon, “felt unwell” before his Renex Express bus went off the road near Almodôvar on Friday evening.

Passengers are understood to have advised him to pull over.

JN carries an eye-witness report saying the bus travelled 150 metres off the main section of the motorway, and then tried to “correct the manoeuvre” and return to the tarmac – at which point it flipped over, ejecting three passengers all of whom all died.

Matos’ wife however has told CM that her husband told her the bus had “lurched to the right” before the accident, and that he “could not control it”.

More details are emerging as investigations have been mounted by the Public Ministry as well as Grupo Barraqueiro – the transport giant that also owned the bus involved in Wednesday’s disaster.

Talking to CM on Saturday, Barraqueiro director Luís Cabeça Martins said “all precautions” are taken “to guarantee the safety of passengers” at all times.

“We rigidly comply with all our legal obligations”, he stressed, adding “unfortunately accidents do happen”.

But two in 48 hours with such tragic consequences are leading to talk and speculation.

In Lagos – from which the Renex Express bus left on Friday afternoon – passengers told the Resident about “drivers who seem to be talking all the time – either on mobile phones or to people sitting closest to them”.

Rolf Persson told us of one trip where “the driver kept talking and looking at the person he was talking at instead of the road”.

Meantime, on Sunday many of the 47 injured in both accidents have been discharged but at least three from Friday’s crash remain in hospital, while ionline puts another five (all Dutch holidaymakers) still being treated in the Algarve for injuries sustained in the first crash.

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