“It is a black day for all of Belgium,” Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said.
But for the two communities touched by a coach crash that has robbed them of 22 of their children, this tragedy is personal. Six adults also died when the coach rammed head-on into the wall of a tunnel in Switzerland.
The 52 people on board had been returning to two schools in the northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium after a ski-ing trip in the mountains. At least 24 passengers were injured, some seriously.
The return trip had no sooner begun than it ended tragically in the tunnel near the town of Sierre in the Swiss canton of Valais near the Italian border.
Distraught families travelled from Belgium to Switzerland, some unsure whether their children had or had not survived Tuesday night’s accident. Most onboard were about 12 years old.
Belgium will honour the dead with a day of national mourning.