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Belgium mourns as bodies of bus crash victims are flown home

Belgian Defense Department via AP

Soldiers unload coffins of children and teachers who were killed in a deadly bus crash in Switzerland, at the military airport of Melsbroek, Belgium, on March 16. A coach accident in Switzerland on Wednesday left 28 dead, including 22 children traveling home after a skiing holiday.

BRUSSELS/SION, Switzerland -- Belgian military aircraft brought home the bodies of 22 children and six adults killed in a bus crash in Switzerland, and the country observed a minute's silence during a national day of mourning on Friday.

White coffins were loaded into two Hercules transport aircraft near the Swiss town of Sion and landed at a military airport near Brussels from where undertakers collected them after a short ceremony. A third plane returned with their belongings.

In factories, offices and schools, Belgians stood silent. Buses, trams and some trains also stopped for passengers to pay their respects to the victims, most of them 11 and 12 year olds returning from a school skiing trip.

"The grief is so intense, but this helps," said one man from the town of Lommel - home to 17 of those killed - referring to acts of remembrance across Belgium.

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-- Reuters

Yves Logghe / AP

A convoy of hearses leave the military airport of Melsbroek, Belgium, on March 16. A tour bus slammed into a tunnel wall in the Swiss Alps in a horrific accident that killed 22 12-year-old students returning from a joyous ski vacation as well as the six adults who were accompanying them.

Yorick Jansens / AFP - Getty Images

Children of primary school 'De Speling' in Lommel form a circle around a heart drawn with chalk on March 16 during a minute of silence at the 't Stekske primary school in Lommel for the victims of the March 13 bus crash near the town of Sierre in southern Switzerland. Twenty-eight people died in the accident, including 22 children from two schools of Lommel and Heverlee, returning to Belgium from a skiing holiday. Belgians observed a minute of silence and church bells tolled across the grieving nation on March 16 as the bodies of the victims were flown home.