Horror in Vila Real as two-ton float crashes to ground, killing one and injuring three others

What should have been a colourful religious celebration ended in tragedy on Sunday when a two-ton float crashed to the ground, killing one man instantly and injuring three others.

The horror took place as hundreds gathered for the traditional procession of Nossa Senhora da Pena, in Mouçós, Vila Real.

As one witness told TV reporters, “this wasn’t an accident, it was a very grave stupidity”.

Wind is understood to have been the cause of the collapse, but what is far more relevant is that the float – 20 metres high and requiring 80 men to bear it through the streets – was unrestrained. It was simply leaning against the church wall, and started to sway as the wind picked up.

“When people realised it was going to fall, everyone started running,” eyewitness João Gomes told reporters.

“The man who was killed couldn’t get out of the way in time. He tripped and the structure came down on top of him.”

The dead man, a former school janitor in his 60s, had gone to the event with his wife and friends.

His wife was among the injured, all of whom were taken to hospital.

But the tragedy did not stop the procession, which took to the streets a little while later – although without the “larger floats”, as a precaution.

It now remains to be seen whether there will be an inquiry into why such a huge and heavy structure was left outside the church, unrestrained.

As one of the many taking part in the day told TVI24, “if I had been near it at the time, it could have been me”.

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