Swiss president attends funeral for crash victims

Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has attended the official funeral service for Belgian victims of a bus crash in a Swiss tunnel in which 28 people died.

This content was published on March 21, 2012 - 14:46
swissinfo.ch and agencies

On Wednesday morning she joined up to some 15,000 mourners and various dignitaries including Belgian and Dutch royalty in the town of Lommel, home to 17 of the 28 people killed on March 13.

Belgium soldiers carried the white coffins of the deceased to a local sports centre for the memorial service, which was attended by King Albert II of Belgium and Queen Paola, as well as Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima from the Netherlands.

Belgium Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and his Dutch counterpart Marc Rutte were also present.

"Is there something worse than parents who lose what they love most?" asked Lommel Mayor Peter Vanvelthoven during the three-hour memorial service.

The coach was carrying 52 people back to Belgium after a ski holiday when it hit a tunnel wall, killing 22 children and all six adults on board. Another 24 children were injured.
 
On Tuesday, three girls who were badly hurt regained consciousness and were out of immediate danger, the Swiss hospital treating them reported. The girls were the last still hospitalised in Switzerland.
 
The crash near the alpine town of Sierre, canton Valais, was one of the worst road disasters in Swiss history and triggered a debate on the safety of Swiss tunnels.
 
On Thursday,  Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter will attend a separate service for the victims from the other school in the town of Heverlee. Representatives of canton Valais will be present at both services.

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