REPORTING FROM LONDON -- A bus carrying 53 Belgians, most of them children returning from a skiing holiday, crashed Tuesday night inside a tunnel on a highway in Switzerland, killing 22 children and six adults, authorities said.
Twenty-four children were injured in the crash and airlifted to a hospital, officials said.
No other vehicle was involved in the accident in southern Switzerland. A police report said the bus hit a concrete wall of an emergency parking bay in the A9 Highway tunnel.
"The frontal impact was extremely violent. The front of the bus was heavily damaged, blocking the occupants," the report said. Pictures from Belgian TV showed the front of the bus demolished.
The bus was reported to be one of three carrying students, all about 12 years old, from two schools in Belgium. They were returning from a week's skiing in the Swiss Alps in the Val d’Anniviers near the Italian border.
In a statement, Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo called it "a tragic day for Belgium" and offered condolences to the families of the victims. He visited the scene of the accident Wednesday morning.
Belgium's ambassador to Switzerland, Jan Luykx, who also visited the site, told the BBC: "It is ... a very emotional situation. For the moment, no specific reason for the accident has been given."
As Belgium mourns, Swiss police are investigating how the crash, one of the worst on the country's roads, could have happened.
-- Janet Stobart