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Fatal coach crash in the “Sierre” tunnel on 13 March 2012
The coach was travelling westwards on the A9 motorway from Siders in the direction of Sitten, and crashed in the “Sierre” tunnel. For reasons that have yet to be clarified, the coach initially struck the tunnel wall and then crashed head on into a service bay. It was taking schoolchildren back to Belgium after a skiing holiday in Valais.
The coach was travelling westwards on the A9 motorway from Siders in the direction of Sitten, and crashed in the "Sierre" tunnel. For reasons that have yet to be clarified, the coach crashed head on into a service bay. It was taking schoolchildren back to Belgium after a skiing holiday in Valais.
Rescue crews worked all night long in the tunnel. The injured were taken by helicopter and ambulance to hospitals in the cantons of Valais, Vaud and Bern. Around 200 personnel were involved in the rescue operation.
Switzerland offers its sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and government of Belgium
It was with shock and immense sadness that Federal President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf learned of the tragic coach accident that occurred yesterday evening in the canton of Valais. On behalf of Switzerland she wishes to express her profound sadness and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this terrible accident, as well as to the people and government of Belgium.
The "Sierre" tunnel was handed over for operation in1999. It is 2.5 kilometres in length and meets all the applicable technical and safety standards (including in particular SIA 197/2). Traffic is divided into two separate tunnels, one in each direction, and in the event of an accident one or other of the tunnels can be used as an escape route via intersections. In view of the topography of the region, the tunnel structure is as follows: approaching from Brig, traffic initially passes through a short section constructed using conventional mining methods (Géronde tunnel), followed by a short open cast stretch (near the Lake of Géronde), then by another short conventionally mined tunnel, and finally by an open cast stretch with a length of 1.25 kilometres.
The damage to the infrastructure is relatively minor, and the tunnel was reopened to traffic at 7.40 a.m. on 14 March.
The management of the incident management is being carried out in accordance with the applicable regulations, which means that in the initial phase it was in the hands of the relevant authorities of the canton of Valais, under the leadership of the president of the Cantonal government, Jacques Melly, and has now been transferred to the district coroner. The Swiss Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) wishes to sincerely thank its colleagues in the canton of Valais for the professional work that has been carried out by all involved parties, from the police and rescue services through to paramedics and the involved FEDRO Regional Unit. The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), the cantonal authorities and FEDRO closely coordinate their activities, while the Federal Chancellery is responsible for communication at the federal level.
Overview plan and plan of the service bay
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