Plans are being made in Heverlee for a joint funeral on Thursday for seven Belgian children who died in bus crash in Switzerland. There are also two adult victims from the town.
All of the children attended the same school – St Lambertus, located in the Flemish part of Belgium, close to Leuven, around 30 kilometres east of Brussels.
Headlines in Dutch-speaking Belgian papers poignantly read ‘Died Together, Buried Together’ referring to the victims of an accident that happened as they returned from a ski trip.
Another town left reeling is Lommel, on the border with the Netherlands, where 15 of the schoolchildren lived.
“Everyone is in pain. Lommel is a small; you know everyone here. So everyone knows someone or has family that was in the bus,” said one woman working in a Lommel bakery.
Residents, like Red Cross volunteer Willy Bekers, are also mourning the six adults who lost their lives.
“The teacher of sixth grade, Raymond Theunis, was a friend of mine. We worked together for years, for the Red Cross here in Lommel,” Bekers said.
Lommel’s memorial service on Wednesday will be attended by members of the royal family from Belgium and the Netherlands, as some of the children who died were Dutch.