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“We will examine everyone to find out what happened,” said Valais prosecutor Olivier Elsig.

Some people had to be freed by rescuers. The highway was closed in both directions to aid in the rescue. Some eight helicopters and a dozen ambulances took victims to hospitals. Dozens of firefighters and police, 15 doctors and three psychologists were called to the scene.

Some parents left Heverlee, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Brussels, Tuesday morning without waiting for government assistance.

“There is this terrible fear and uncertainty,” Andre Joseph Leonard, the archbishop of Belgium, who was in Heverlee by coincidence, told the AP. “There are about eight about whom we don’t know what happened, leaving their parents in terrible fear.”

A government spokesman said a crisis center has been set up and an emergency number provided for families.

The Alpine city of Sierre, near Sion, the capital of Valais, is a gateway to the Val d’Anniviers tourist region and is connected to the Crans-Montana ski resort by funicular railway.

The Top Tours company, based in Aarschot, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Brussels, was in charge of the bus that crashed. A woman who answered the phone at the company’s offices declined to comment.

Two other buses, carrying students from schools in the Belgian towns of Beersel and Haasrode, arrived safely back in Belgium on Tuesday, apparently without having seen the accident.

At midday, the blog of the Sint Lambertussschool in Heverlee was still online, showing kids smiling and frolicking amid the snow.

“Things are super here in Saint-Luc. The skiing, the weather, the food. Its all not bad at all,” one boy posted on Saturday. “Tomorrow I play in the Muppet Show. … I’m now reading the book ‘Why Dogs Have Wet Noses.’ Very interesting! I miss you all.”

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Melvin reported from Brussels. Frank Jordans in Geneva, Raf Casert in Heverlee, Belgium, and Robert Wielaard in Brussels contributed to this report.