Belgium falls silent for victims of coach crash

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Belgium has marked the deaths of 28 people in a school coach crash with a minute’s silence observed by schoolchildren, politicians, factory workers, shoppers and motorists across the country.

Travellers at bus, underground and railway stations were asked to pause until church bells rang out to sound the end of the moment of remembrance yesterday – the centrepiece of what was declared a national day of mourning within hours of Monday’s accident.

Parents stood in silence at the schools in Lommel and Heverlee, which lost a total of 22 pupils when their coach hit a wall in a Swiss tunnel on the way back from a ski trip.

The other victims were teachers from the schools and the coach’s two drivers.

As the inquiry into the crash went on in Switzerland, it emerged that a British boy, with a British father and Belgian mother, was among the victims. Sebastian Bowles, 11, was a pupil at St Lambertus School in Heverlee. The family moved to Belgium from north London only two years ago to be close to Mrs Bowles’s relatives.

Shortly before yesterday’s mark of respect, two transport planes arrived at a military airfield near Brussels carrying the bodies of the 28 victims, now all identified. Hearses then carried the bodies back to their respective home regions.