Many Children Among Victims 28 Killed as Belgian Bus Crashes in Swiss Tunnel

A coach carrying two Belgian school classes home from a skiing trip crashed in a Swiss motorway tunnel on Tuesday night, killing 28 people, 22 of them children, in one of the worst accidents in recent history. A total of 24 children on board were injured, some seriously. Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said it was "a very sad day for Belgium."


A coach crashed into the wall of a tunnel in Switzerland on Tuesday night, killing 28 people, including 22 children, Swiss authorities said. A total of 24 other children were injured in the accident. The Belgian bus was carrying two school classes from the north Belgian region of Flanders.

The children were aged about 12 and came from the towns of Lommel and Heverlee in Flanders. The coach transporting 52 people crashed late on Tuesday evening in the Swiss canton of Valais, which borders Italy, police told a news conference early on Wednesday.

"It is an event which will really shake the whole Belgian population when they wake up this morning to such extremely sad news," Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told French radio station Europe 1.

Reynders said the bus was one of three traveling together and the other two had returned to Belgium. It was heading back to Belgium from a skiing holiday camp in Val d'Anniviers, a Valais ski resort. The front third of the bus was completely smashed in.

Cause of Crash Unknown

The bus was traveling on a highway towards Sitten from Siders when it crashed into the tunnel wall. Two drivers in the bus were also killed. The cause of the accident was not yet known, police said.

Some 200 rescuers worked through the night at the crash scene, while 12 ambulances and eight helicopters ferried the injured to hospital.

On Tuesday evening, police had initially only said the crash had caused serious injuries. The true toll wasn't announced until Wednesday morning.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said it was a "very sad day for Belgium." The Swiss parliament held a minute's silence in honor of the dead.

cro -- with wire reports


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