It was Belgium’s first National Day of Mourning for eight years.
At EU institutions in Brussels, in workplaces, train stations and elsewhere around the country, people came together to remember the victims of the school bus crash in Switzerland.
The bodies of the 22 children and six adults who died were brought home in Belgian military aircraft to an airport near Brussels.
They were placed in a hangar for military honours.
Away from the ceremony, more injured children were also flown home.
In Lommel on the Dutch border, where several of the children went to a local primary school, a memorial service is to be held next Wednesday.
The Belgian royal family and the Queen of the Netherlands are due to attend: six of the dead children were Dutch.
One army psychologist, who has been counselling victims’ families, said: “We must ask how in a school like this one here in Lommel, a class is going to resume where there were 22 pupils and 15 of them died, where several others are still seriously injured, where the six or seven remaining children may find themselves in a classroom with 22 chairs, where there were benches with names written on them. Their friends’ drawings are still hanging on the wall. Here we should all pause for thought.”
Arrangements are also underway for funerals in the central Belgian town of Heverlee, where seven of the dead children came from.
They want to cater for the public while making the event as private as possible.