A bus accident in Switzerland has claimed the lives of at least 28 people, mainly children. The bus was carrying two classes of Belgian students back home after a skiiing holiday.
At least 28 people, 22 of them children, were killed after a bus carrying Belgian tourists crashed in southern Switzerland on Tuesday night. Twenty-four more children were injured.
Emergency services worked through much of the night to free those injured, who were taken by ambulances and helicopters to hospitals, some as far away as the Swiss capital, Berne.
Police in the canton of Valais said the bus had crashed into the wall of a tunnel on the A9 motorway near the town of Sierre. The motorway had to be closed in both directions for several hours. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.
The impact of the crash caused so much damage to the front of the bus that fire crews were forced to cut some of the victims free.
"This is a tragic day for all of Belgium," said a statement from Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who was to travel to Switzerland later in the day.
The bus was carrying a total of 52 people, mainly pupils from two schools in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium. They were on their way home after a skiing holiday in Switzerland. Twenty-one of the dead were Belgian and seven were Dutch, according to Swiss officials.
The Belgian foreign ministry said most of the children were around the age of 12 and that the bus was one of three that had been hired by a Christian group.
Psychological counselors were to be made available to members of the victims’ families as they arrived in Switzerland.
pfd,slk/ncy (dpa, AFP, Reuters)