British boy among Swiss bus crash victims

British boy among Swiss bus crash victims

A British boy was among the 28 people killed in a horrific bus crash in a Swiss tunnel, it emerged today.

Sebastian Bowles, 11, was one of the 22 children who died in Tuesday’s crash, a spokesman for St Lambertus School in Heverlee, Belgium, confirmed.

The tourist bus carrying 52 people hit a wall returning from a ski holiday in the Swiss Alps.

School representative Dirk De Gendt said Sebastian’s British father Edward and Belgian mother Ann landed in Brussels last night after identifying their son’s body in Switzerland.

Mr De Gendt said: “They landed in Brussels at 10.45pm. The mother had gone to Switzerland with a group of parents and the father had flown directly from London to Switzerland.”

He appealed for the parents to be left to grieve in private.

According to The Sun, Sebastian’s father moved his family from London two years ago to be near his wife’s relatives.

The family previously lived in Crouch End, north London and now live in Louvain, the newspaper reported.

Relatives of the 28 dead faced the heartbreaking task of identifying them ahead of their repatriation.

Family members were taken from a hotel in the southern Swiss town of Sion to the nearby morgue, where the bodies were being kept.

From there the relatives made a poignant visit to the crash site inside the Tunnel de Geronde near Sierre town.

They placed flowers in a floral tribute to the 21 Belgian and seven Dutch victims.

The Belgian tourist bus, which was carrying 52 people, hit a wall less than an hour after heading home from a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps.

Twenty four other youngsters were hurt, some seriously.

The authorities said yesterday they were were working to release the bodies as soon as possible but some remained to be formally identified.

In Belgium, plans were being made to repatriate the bodies via military aircraft with today declared a national day of mourning.

Investigations have begun to determine how a modern bus, with two rested drivers and in a tunnel considered safe, could have one of the deadliest crashes in Swiss history.

The prosecutor for the Swiss state of Valais, Olivier Elsig, said investigators were studying three possible causes of the crash – human error, a health problem with the driver or a technical problem with the bus.

Swiss and Belgian media reported that survivors of the crash claimed the driver had reached to change a disc in the onboard entertainment system shortly before the crash.

It was unclear whether that could have contributed to the crash, and neither police nor prosecutors could be reached for comment about the claim.

Locals described their shock at the tragedy.

Genevieve Romailler, a pharmacist, said: “I am very sad, because I have children and today I awoke with them and I think very strongly about these people because it’s really very hard.

“It’s very hard to come to terms with this kind of situation.”

Barman Franck Bartolucci said: “Even if we didn’t know these young victims, we are really taking this to heart and we are really moved by this tragedy.”

Grieving residents also visited a Catholic chapel in Sierre to pay their respects to the dead.

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