At least 28 people have died, 22 of them children, after a bus carrying Belgian children crashed in a Swiss tunnel, police confirmed on Wednesday.
Distraught parents are due to meet outside the Sint Lambertus school today, to comfort one another and wait to hear more details. The parents of the victims will travel on to Switzerland later on Wednesday.
As the families of the victims prepare to leave for Switzerland, a 12-year-old survivor with broken legs and a broken arm managed to reach her father.
She was quoted by the Lesoir newspaper as telling her Dad “It was very dark, and I heard a huge shock. All the seats went flying and I found myself between two seats.”
Belgian police spokesperson Marc Vranckx said: "Some parents know their kids have survived. For others there is no news."
Valais police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet said 52 people were on the bus carrying students home from a skiing trip crashed into the wall of a tunnel. A further 24 children were injured in the crash and taken to hospital.
The children are thought to have been from two different schools, the Sint Lambertus school in Heverlee and from the ‘t Stekske school in Lommel.
The schoolkids had written a blog about their holiday where they talked about the "great time" they were having skiing and how much they were "looking forward to getting home."
People outside the Sint Lambertus school
Police said the bus, which was carrying 52 people in total, crashed around 9pm local time on Tuesday in a tunnel at Sierre.
According to local reports, the bus swerved, hit a curb and then crashed into a concrete wall inside the tunnel.
The wreckage of the coach
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Switzerland's Cantonal police head Christian Varone said the crash was “unprecedented”.
The victims are all thought to be Belgians living in Flanders.
"It is incomprehensible. There were three buses and only one was in an accident, without any contact with another vehicle."
Rescue workers stand near debris of a crashed tourist bus
The Belgian prime minister said it was a "tragic day" for his country. "First thoughts go to the victims, to the members of their family and their loved ones."
Belgium's ambassador to Switzerland Jan Luykx also expressed his sympathies saying the tragedy will "hit the whole of Belgium."
"The magnitude of the accident is difficult to take in. For the moment I am concentrating on the practical aspects. The emotional side will come when we meet the families."
A spokesperson for the Swiss government said a crisis centre has been set up and an emergency number provided for families.
An investigation is now under way.