28 killed in Swiss crash – Seat belts did little, crash investigators admit – update image

A tour bus carrying schoolchildren home from a ski trip crashed into a wall inside a tunnel in Sierre, Switzerland on Tuesday, killing 22 children and six teachers.

The children on the bus that crashed were from the Stekske primary school in Lommel, near the Dutch border, and from St Lambertus in Heverlee, near Leuven, with the numbers roughly even.

Twenty-one of the dead were Belgian nationals and seven were Dutch, according to Swiss officials. The Dutch Foreign Ministry said three Dutch children in the bus were injured. Most children aboard were about 12.

The devastating loss of life suffered in the Swiss road crash is likely to lead to calls for more to be done to improve the safety on board large passenger coaches.

However, police said the bus was not speeding and everyone aboard had been wearing seat belts when it crashed. In addition, investigators were still trying to determine how a modern bus, a rested driver and a seemingly safe tunnel could produce one of the deadliest highway crashes in Swiss history.

Investigators were still trying to determine how a modern bus, a rested driver and a seemingly safe tunnel could produce one of the deadliest highway crashes in Swiss history.
Experts will conduct an autopsy on the driver, he added.

Belgian transport minister Melchior Wathelet said the company that ran the coach, Toptours, based in Aarschot, central Belgium, had a good safety record.

A Catholic chapel in Sierre was opened to allow the public to pay their respects to the victims, and a memorial mass was planned for Thursday evening at the town’s Holy Cross church.