Belgium is holding a national day of mourning for 28 people killed in a bus crash in the Swiss Alps, as bodies of several victims of the horrific accident returned home.
Forty-six children and four teachers from two Belgian schools were returning home from a skiing holiday late on Tuesday when their coach slammed into a concrete wall in the motorway tunnel in southern Switzerland.
Twenty-two of the dead were from Belgium while the other six fatalities were from the Netherlands.
Eight children hurt in the accident that also claimed six adult lives, landed at Melsbroek military airport near Brussels on Friday, according to a Swiss hospital official, before speeding off with relieved loved ones accompanied by a police escort.
The bodies of several victims - mainly Belgian and Dutch 11- and 12-year-olds - also arrived to Belgium on a military plane from Switzerland, Belga news agency reported.
Swiss police commander Christian Varone said 19 of the 28 bodies had been identified.
Grieving Belgians held an emotional vigil late on Thursday as classmates and neighbours turned out to pray for the dead in Lommel, a town of 33,000 where many of the victims came from.
Police said 2,500 people congregated around a Catholic service.
"With this candle, I am thinking of you," a church worker said for each of the 24 names read out.
Back in Switzerland, grieving parents laid flowers at the crash site as investigators sought to unravel the cause of the tragedy.
Three of the injured children remained in critical condition, a Swiss hospital spokeswoman said, and could not be moved.
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|William A. Cook|
|Timothy V. Gatto|