Crash bus driver wanted to play DVD
Brussels - The driver of a bus that crashed in Switzerland, killing 22 children, tried to play a DVD just before the accident, Belgian and Swiss papers said Thursday, an allegation rejected by his employer.
The website of Dutch-language Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws said that "just before the accident, the driver wanted to put a DVD" in the player.
The newspaper, without directly identifying the sources, said "this is what injured children told their parents and medics" in Swiss hospitals.
The daily reported from Switzerland that a teacher with the schoolchildren had taken a DVD to the driver shortly before Tuesday night's crash in an alpine tunnel, which also killed the two drivers and four other adults.
The paper said that a "moment of distraction" could have led to "the driver losing control".
A Swiss police official, Renato Kalbermatten, told the newspaper this was speculation, saying there was no confirmation available via the tunnel's closed-circuit cameras.
Impossible to see
Swiss daily Aargauer Zeitung reported the same claims.
The head of the Toptours bus company, Tom Cooremans, and the head of the Belgian Coach Operators Federation (FBAA) rejected the allegations during a press conference.
They said it would have been impossible for a child to see what was going on in the front of the bus because the driver's cabin is at a lower level than the passenger seats in the Altano model made by bus maker Van Hool.
"It is impossible for a child to have seen the driver handle a DVD or another object," Toptours said, according to Belga news agency, adding that no alcohol was detected in the driver.
Swiss officials said the body of the driver was expected to remain in the country after the other dead are repatriated to Belgium and the Netherlands.
Officials said "health analyses have to be carried out" to check if he was suffering from an illness that could have caused the accident.