Coach crash victims return home

The first of the victims of Sunday’s coach crash on the E34 motorway at Ranst in Antwerp Province have been flown home to Volgograd in Russia. A second Russia plane has arrived at Zaventem Airport near Brussels with a team of doctors that will visit those still in hospital here. Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Polish bus company whose coach was involved in the crash has anything but an untarnished reputation.

The first Russian plane that was sent to repatriate victims of the crash flew out of Zaventem at 2 am on Monday. Twenty-five youngsters and four adults that were uninjured or only slightly injured in the crash that killed five. A team of Russian doctors and psychologists accompanied them on their flight home.

None of the six seriously injured victims’ condition is life-threatening. However, one of the victims faces a long stay in hospital.

A videoconference will be held on Monday to allow the victims that are still in hospital to talk to their parents.

Russia’s Ambassador to Belgium and other Russian Embassy staff were at the airport to see off the crash victims, as was the Belgian Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet (Francophone Christian democrat) and members of the Interior Ministry Crisis Centre.

Meanwhile a second Russian plane has landed at Zaventem. On board was a medical team that will visit the victims that are still in hospital to gain an impression of their medical needs. The aircraft will probably return to Russia later on Monday.

Bus company’s reputation “not untarnished”

It has emerged that the bus company whose coach was involved in the crash has anything but an untarnished reputation. A number of Polish news websites report that the company has previous form for not respecting driving and rest times.

Three colleagues of the drivers killed in Sunday morning’s crash, including their immediate superior, were only very recently issued with warnings.

The Russian tour operator said earlier that the drivers had respected their rest and driving times. The bus involved in the accident was new and according to one of the adults escorting the youngsters, the bus driver at the wheel at the time of the accident had only been driving for about an hour.