Bus Crash Kills 22 Children on Ski Holiday

14 Mar 2012

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Emergency personnel at the scene of the crash

A bus crash in Switzerland has killed 28 Belgian tourists, 22 of them children, on a ski trip.

The vehicle hit the wall of a motorway tunnel in the Swiss Alps, near the border with Italy, reports Sky News.

Another 24 children were injured in the crash.

Six adults, including the two coach drivers of the coach, died in the accident.

The bus, transporting 52 people from the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium, crashed on Tuesday night in the canton of Valais, an area of popular ski resorts.

The passengers were travelling from Val d'Anniviers back to Belgium.

Most of the children were aged around 12, and the bus was one of three hired by a Christian group.

Belgium's Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who will be travelling to Switzerland later today, said this is "an extremely sad day for all of Belgium".

A statement from his office said: "The prime minister learned with dismay of the horrible accident that happened in Switzerland.

"This is a tragic day for all of Belgium.

"His first thoughts go to the victims, to the members of their family and their loved ones."

Relatives of the victims will be flown to Switzerland later today by army aircraft and will be offered counselling, said Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.

"Our first thought was the distress of the families," he said.

Jan Luykx, the Belgian ambassador to Switzerland, who went straight to the site of the crash, said: "This tragedy will hit the whole of Belgium."

The impact of the smash was so severe many passengers were trapped in the wreckage and had to be freed by rescuers.

Survivors were taken to four hospitals in the Valais region, while others were taken by helicopter to hospitals in Bern and Lausanne.

Jean-Pierre Deslarzes, a surgeon in one of the hospitals, said: "All the rescuers were shocked by what they have experienced.

"The magnitude of the accident is difficult to digest."

Swiss newspaper, Blick said the coach was heading back to the cities of Lommel and Heverlee in Flanders.

Peter Vanvelthoven, the mayor of Lommel, where some of the children went to school, said they were also trying to help the families.

"We have arranged a reception at the school, first for the parents, for the children and for the teachers, too," he said.

Transport Minister, Melchior Wathelet said: "I'm at a loss for words. Terribly hurt, terribly moved.

"We are all thinking like parents, with this terrible thought for those parents who will not see their children coming back.

"Yesterday evening, they were looking forward to seeing them and they won't see them again."

The cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

Tags: News, World, Bus Crash

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