Friday, March 16, 2012

Bodies of school children killed in Swiss bus crash brought home

BRUSSELS/SION, Switzerland — Belgian military aircraft brought home the bodies of 22 children and six adults killed in a bus crash in Switzerland, and the country observed a minute’s silence during a national day of mourning on Friday.
White coffins were loaded into two Hercules transport aircraft near the Swiss town of Sion and landed at a military airport near Brussels from where undertakers collected them after a short ceremony. A third plane returned with their belongings.
In factories, offices and schools, Belgians stood silent. Buses, trams and some trains also stopped for passengers to pay their respects to the victims, most of them 11 and 12 year olds returning from a school skiing trip.
Flags were flown at half-mast on public buildings across Belgium, the Netherlands and the Swiss canton of Valais where the accident happened.
Six Dutch children were killed in the crash and four more were injured – Lommel is right by the Dutch border. Official British sources said one of the dead was an 11-year-old with joint Belgian-British nationality.
Of the survivors, six children with only light injuries returned to Belgium on Thursday.
Six specialised medical planes were due to bring a further 14 more seriously injured children back on Friday and four more will stay in Swiss hospitals.
One of three girls seriously injured in Tuesday's coach in Switzerland has awoken from an induced coma, said a statement on Friday from the Lausanne hospital to which the children were taken. "She has been fully conscious since yesterday." said the statement, noting the girl could also talk. The hospital said the child suffered multiple fractures and a spinal cord injury.
Her two companions, also suffering from multiple fractures and trauma, "must still be kept in an induced coma" for neurological reasons. The hospital said that it was too early to say if the three patients were completely out of danger.The nature of the injuries meant there needed to be some delay before the precise treatment could be decided upon, the hospital said.

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