Grieving Parents Head to Swiss Crash Site; 28 Dead, Including 22 Children

Posted March 14th, 2012 at 9:35 am (UTC-5)
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A skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps for Belgian tourists came to a terrible end late Tuesday when their tour bus crashed into a tunnel wall, killing 28 people — 22 of them children.

Anguished and grieving parents began arriving Wednesday at the schools in Lommel and Heverlee , where many of the children had attended class. Police stood by outside.

The pastor for one of the schools, Dirk De Gendt at Saint Lambertus School, said there is uncertainty about the condition of some of the children.

“We have 24 children here from our school (on the trip). Eight children we don't know what is happening with them, the other children have broken legs and arms. And our teacher and our monitor, they are dead.”

At the Brussels Military Airport, families being flown to Switzerland were filled with doubt. Leene Brusche and Eddy Thielemans worried about their godson, 12-year-old Bavo Daman.

“They told us his best friend has two broken legs and his teacher died. Is it true or not? I don't know. We don't know anything.”

Officials say the bus hit a curb and veered into the wall of a tunnel in Valais region, leaving the front of the bus mangled.

Police and firefighters responding to the scene said the crash left many of the survivors trapped in the wreckage. Twenty-four people were taken to the hospital.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo planned to fly to the crash scene Wednesday. He called it an extremely sad day for all of Belgium.

Belgian and Swiss officials say they are still trying to determine why the bus slammed into the tunnel wall. They say the tour bus company has a solid safety record.