Inquiry opened into security failings after bus catches fire in Portugal’s longest road tunnel

An inquiry has been opened into alleged security failings in the Marão tunnel after a bus caught fire inside, leaving passengers stranded.

Eye-witness reports attest to security services taking over 15 minutes to arrive, while smoke-extractors channelled smoke into a parallel chamber, making it impossible for use by people trying to escape to safety.

As it was, drivers helped panicking bus passengers by driving them out of the tunnel.

Infraestruturas Portugal has since denied there were any security failings, but secretary of state for internal administration Jorge Gomes has opened the inquiry to clear-up doubts that have been flying in the media since the accident last Sunday.

Meantime, traffic through the 5.6 km bridge connecting Matosinhos with Amarante is still ‘conditioned’, and is likely to remain so for the next few days reports TVI24.

This was the first major incident to have happened in the tunnel since it opened last year after endless delays, and according to IP it has caused “significant damage” to lighting, communications and security systems.

But what is worrying local authorities most is the failings that have been flagged in terms of preparedness for an accident, which as all admit, ‘can happen anytime’.

Principle concerns rest on the fact that ‘traffic control’ has been ‘discontinued’ in Vila Real and ‘transferred’ to Almada – which Vila Real mayor Rui Santos feels was misguided.

As it was, this time there were no casualties, he said, though the bus belonging to local business Rodonorte was completely ‘carbonised’.

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