Belgium Mourns 28 Killed During a Swiss Skiing Trip

Posted March 14th, 2012 at 10:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Belgium is mourning the death of 28 people, most of them children, who were killed Tuesday in a bus crash following a ski vacation in Switzerland.

Family members and friends of the victims gathered for a candlelight memorial in Saint Peter's Church, in Leuven, Belgium.

Other mourners left flowers outside the Swiss morgue in Sion where some distraught parents went to identify their loved ones. Other parents arrived in Switzerland to attend to surviving children.

Doctor Cawen Mechiel, who is treating some of the injured children at a hospital in Sion, says most of them have broken bones.

“Well the children who are here in the hospital in Sion they are, of course considering the very heavy accident, they are in rather good shape. Most of them have fractures, but none of them is in life danger. We have about 12 people who are already in the pediatric ward and one who is still in intensive care and another who is now actually being operated. But here in this hospital there are no problems concerning life-threatening events.''

The bus carrying 52 people back to Belgium after the skiing vacation struck the wall of a tunnel late Tuesday in the Valais region. The accident mangled the front of the bus and left some of the passengers trapped. Police, firefighters and medical staff worked through the night to pull out survivors and bodies, while ambulances and helicopters took the injured to hospitals in the region.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo called it a tragic day for all of Belgium. He traveled to Switzerland Wednesday. Belgium's King Albert said his thoughts are with the victims and their families.

U.S. President Barack Obama also expressed his condolences and offered U.S. help if needed.

Belgian and Swiss authorities are still trying to determine why the bus slammed into the tunnel wall, but they say the vehicle traveled at a normal speed.

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