Survivors of Belgian bus crash flown home to Russia

22nd April 2013, Comments 0 comments

All 37 Russian survivors of a weekend bus crash, most of them youngsters, were flown home from Belgium on Monday, a day after the drama in which five people died.

A first Russian plane carrying 29 people, 25 of them schoolchildren, landed in the southeast city of Volgograd, after the Russian government organised two special flights, Russian officials said.

A second airliner took off later in the day carrying three adults and three children injured in the crash, as well as two children and Russian and Belgian doctors and medical staff, Belgium's interior ministry said.

Five people died and 19 were injured when their Polish-registered bus, heading for Paris with 42 people on board, including two Polish drivers, swerved off a highway on approaching the port city of Antwerp in the morning.

The bodies of the three dead Russians -- a 14-year-old, a 51-year-old teacher and a guide -- will be flown home later, Belgian officials said.

The bodies of the two dead Polish drivers will be autopsied, the Antwerp prosecutor's office said.

The youngsters came from three schools, with some parents accompanying their children on the trip, a 3,500-kilometre journey across Europe.

Pictures showed the badly damaged bus lying on its side some five metres (15 feet) below a bridge carrying the highway.

Reports said no other vehicle was involved and the bus apparently swerved off the road and through a guard rail, sliding down the embankment of the bridge before coming to a halt underneath.

The immediate cause of the crash was unknown, with no signs that the bus had braked sharply.

A Polish road transport inspection official told AFP that the company in charge had been found to have allowed three drivers to drive around an hour longer than legally allowed in March.

The accident stirs painful memories of an accident a year ago when a bus carrying Belgian schoolchildren crashed in Switzerland, killing 22 and six adults accompanying them.

© 2013 AFP

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