Swiss coach crash rescuers distraught at sight of child victims

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Swiss coach crash rescuers distraught at sight of child victims

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Rescue teams deployed to the scene of a deadly coach crash in the Swiss canton of Valais have described how the front third of the vehicle had been completely smashed in.

Twenty-four people, including 22 children were killed when a coach hit a motorway tunnel wall head-on. Another 24 children were injured.

Most of the passengers are thought to be from Belgium, with nine children from the Netherlands.

A crew of about 200 worked through the night to free many of the passengers from the wreck and transport them to hospital, some by air ambulance.

“From the emergency services point of view, having carried out several similiar operations in the past, this is an unprecedented tragedy here in Valais,” said Christiane Varone, commander of the canton of Valais police.

“I can recount to you now the sheer sorrow and tears that were visible on the faces of most of them,” Varone added.

The coach was carrying a group of 55 people, mostly schoolchildren, who were heading home to Belgium after a skiing holiday in the resort of Val d’Anniviers.

The head of the Valais cantonal government Jacques Mel praised emergency workers for their speedy rescue efforts during such difficult conditions in a motorway tunnel.

Swiss MPs held a minute’s silence for the victims on Wednesday and MEPs in the European Parliament were also set to pay a silent tribute in Strasbourg.