Blog reveals holiday fun before killer crash
A TORCHLIT march, ravioli and meatball dinners, rides in a funicular railway, a singalong and a dress-up casino evening were some of the things that made a fateful Swiss Alps trip "mega-cool" for 24 Belgian schoolchildren.
But the good times turned to tragedy for the St Lambertus school pupils on Tuesday night when their bus, which also carried youngsters from a second Belgian school, crashed inside a Swiss tunnel on its way home.
Twenty-two youngsters from the two different schools died, along with six adults. The dead included "teacher Frank", who had set up a native-language Dutch blog that had kept parents and schoolchildren who stayed home informed about all the fun.
Parents were flown to Switzerland yesterday to find out whether their children were still alive. Sixteen St Lambertus pupils were confirmed to have survived, but the fate of eight others was unknown, at least to their families.
Nine days earlier, they had left for the holiday of their lives in the snow-covered Alps of Switzerland, an annual highlight for pupils at St Lambertus, a 200-strong small Roman Catholic institution in Heverlee, on the outskirts of the old university town Leuven.
According to the blog, the week began flawlessly. "This is our first blog posting," wrote Frank Van Kerckhove, the teacher who set up the blog.
"The bus trip was very smooth. There was little traffic. We watched the movie Avatar (and) no-one became car sick on the climb" into the Alps.
In the days that followed, the youngsters posted about their vacation with youthful exuberance.
"This afternoon we had soup and ravioli, very delicious," one girl wrote on March 6.