Five Dead In Belgium Bus Crash; Victims Between 15-22 Years Old

Emergency workers investigating the accident scene
Emergency workers investigating the accident scene

No fewer than five people died while several were badly injured when a bus carrying Russian youngsters on their way to Paris crashed in northern Belgium, officials said on Sunday.

The bus registered in Poland had 42 passengers on board, aged between 15 and 22, when it swerved off the E34 highway approaching the port city of Antwerp at around 6:30 am (0430 GMT).

Three adolescents died as well as a chaperone and the driver.

Early reports said the passengers included Ukrainians but a statement by the nearby Ranst commune said they were Russians from the Volgograd region who were on their way to Paris. Some reports say the driver was Polish.

According to the statement, five passengers died in the crash, with another five very seriously injured, including two who were fighting for their lives.

The dead and other passengers hurt were evacuated to different hospitals in the region, the statement added.

The Ranst commune did not say whether the passengers were students or what the purpose of their journey was, but said it would issue another statement later in the day.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said his “thoughts go to the victims. … The Belgian emergency services and authorities (are doing) everything to help.”

Reports said no other vehicle was involved and the bus apparently swerved off the road and through a guard rail. Pictures showed the bus lying on its side below a bridge carrying the highway before it was righted by a crane and put back on the road.

The immediate cause of the crash was unknown, as there were no signs the bus had braked sharply. An official investigation has been launched.

Meanwhile, local officials said every assistance would be offered to the families of the victims.

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