FOURTEEN Brit holidaymakers from the same family have been injured after their coach smashed into a tanker truck on an Algarve motorway.
Three of the tourists are understood to be seriously hurt, with the other 11 suffering less serious injuries amid reports the truck spilled concrete into the bus.
SOLARPIX.COM A bus and a concrete mixer truck collided on the motorway in Portugal
Among the injured passengers is a nine year-old girl, who witnesses said was seen sitting by the side of the motorway for an hour after the crash.
One said: “She was with her mum who was around 30. The mum had injuries to her nose.
“Although the girl had no visible injuries, she was quite clearly in shock.”
Other victims were as old as 67.
SOLARPIX.COM TV footage shows the wreckage after the bus and truck collided in Portugal
SOLARPIX.COM Firefighters work at the scene of the crash to free people from the wreckage
A source close to the accident investigation said the victims were from the same family group.
And a spokesman for the Foreign Office confirmed British officials were “offering support to a British family” after the smash.
GNR police chief Samuel Afonso confirmed all the passengers on the Spanish-owned coach were British tourists.
He said they were on their way from a hotel in the resort of Praia da Rocha to Faro Airport to catch flights home.
The police chief said investigators had yet to officially determine the cause of the accident, but said he believed it may have happened after one of the drivers was momentarily blinded by the sun.
The crash happened just before 8am local time this morning near the Areeiro Tunnel between Loule and Faro.
Cruz Lusa / Corpo de Bombeiros Sapadores de Faro A girl, nine, is among those to have been hurt in the smash
Cruz Lusa / Corpo de Bombeiros Sapadores de Faro Sources claim concrete spilled out into the bus following the horror smash
A massive emergency response involving firefighters, police, paramedics and local Red Cross workers in more than 20 vehicles was immediately mobilised.
The motorway was closed on the stretch heading eastwards towards Faro so victims could be freed from the wreckage.
Two of the passengers – both believed to be women – and the Portuguese driver had to be cut out of the twisted metal by firefighters before being taken to Faro hospital.
The last casualty was not freed till just after 10am local time – more than two hours after the crash.
SOLARPIX.COM Firefighters lower one of the victims from the wreckage after freeing him
sicnoticias Firefighters worked to free some people from the wreckage for two hours
Dramatic TV footage showed the front of the coach embedded in the back of the truck.
A well-placed local source said the truck was a concrete mixer and concrete from inside the container it was carrying had spilled into the coach.
Loule firefighter chief Irlandino Santos said: “The rescue was very quick and efficient.
“Forty vehicles and 93 people were mobilised so the rescue could take place as quickly as possible to ensure there was no loss of life.”
Alamy The crash occurred on Portugal’s popular Algarve coast. File image
He added: “The casualties essentially suffered broken bones and multiple trauma injuries and were aged between nine and 67.
“The child was okay, without any serious injuries, and was the only minor on board.”
Faro police chief Abel Adriano said: “We will be investigating the speed both vehicles were doing.
“We know that both vehicles were moving when the crash occurred. There’s nothing pointing to this being a dangerous area and it’s a rare accident that has occurred here.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are offering support to a British family following a traffic accident in the Algarve, and our staff are in contact with the Portuguese hospital services.”