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Families taken to identify Swiss bus crash victims as Belgium prepares to repatriate bodies
GENEVA (AP) ' Families of some of the 28 people killed when a bus from Belgium crashed inside a Swiss tunnel were being taken to identify the bodies ahead of their repatriation, police said Thursday.
Relatives were driven from a hotel in the Swiss town of Sion to the nearby morgue, where the bodies of some of the 22 schoolchildren and six adults killed in Tuesday's crash were being kept.
"Where possible the bodies will be shown to the families," police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet told The Associated Press. "In some cases this is not possible because the bodies are too badly injured," he said.
Swiss police say 21 Belgians and seven Dutch were killed when the bus carrying 52 people hit a wall inside the Tunnel de Geronde less than an hour after heading home from a skiing vacation in the Swiss Alps. Twenty-four other children were hurt, some seriously.
Bornet said authorities were working to release the bodies of all victims as soon as possible. In Belgium, plans were being made to begin repatriating those injured and killed as early as Thursday.
In the town of Sierre, where the crash occurred, locals expressed their shock at the tragedy and the fact that most of the victims were 12-year-old children.
"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," said Genevieve Romailler, a pharmacist.
"It's very hard to come to terms with this kind of situation and even if we didn't know these young victims we are really taking this to heart and we really moved by this tragedy," said barman Franck Bartolucci.
A Catholic chapel in Sierre was opened to allow the public to pay their respects to the victims, and a memorial mass was planned for Thursday evening at the town's Holy Cross church.
Jeffrey Schaeffer in Sierre, Switzerland, and Don Melvin in Brussels contributed to this report.