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Falling Tree Kills 13 at Religious Festival in Portugal

Thirteen people were killed and 49 others injured when an enormous tree fell Tuesday in Madeira, Portugal, officials said.

Firefighters work at the area affected by a tree fall that killed several people in Funchal on August 15, 2017. (Credit: HELDER SANTOS/AFP/Getty Images)

Firefighters work at the area affected by a tree fall that killed several people in Funchal on August 15, 2017. (Credit: HELDER SANTOS/AFP/Getty Images)

The tree came down during an important Catholic celebration on the island, regional Health Secretary Pedro Ramos said in a televised news conference.

The dead and injured had gathered to honor Our Lady of the Mountain at a church in a village near the island’s main city of Funchal, Ramos said. Tuesday marked the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when Catholics celebrate the assumption of the body of Jesus Christ’s mother into heaven. It is one of six Catholic holy days of obligation.

A spokesman for the Funchal Hospital announced the 13th death on Tuesday. Sixteen of the injured people remain in the hospital, he said.

Massive tree crashes down

Video from the scene shows a massive tree crashing down as a panicked crowd screams and flees. The tree was a 200-year-old oak, local media reported.

A little girl was among those killed, Ramos said, adding that seven of the injured were in serious condition, with three people expected to require surgery. Three foreign nationals — one each from France, Germany and Hungary — were among the injured, he said.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was expected to arrive Tuesday on the island, said the president of the regional government, Miguel Albuquerque.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa offered his condolences on Twitter.

Madeira, a popular tourist destination dubbed the “pearl of the Atlantic,” is the largest of several Portuguese islands in the North Atlantic.