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Poland mourns 26 bus crash victims

  • Story Highlights
  • Poland begins three days of mourning on Sunday
  • 26 people killed in bus, carrying Polish pilgrims, crash near Grenoble
  • Accident happened as the coach was descending a steep incline
  • It left the road, fell into a ravine and burst into flames
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WARSAW, Poland (Reuters) -- Flags were flying at half mast, church bells tolled and a rock concert was cancelled as Poland began three days of mourning on Monday for at least 26 Polish pilgrims killed in a bus crash in France.

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Poland began three days of mourning Monday to mourn the 26 who died Sunday's crash.

President Lech Kaczynski urged Poles to call off all entertainment during mourning for the pilgrims, who died on Sunday when their coach crashed off a road in the French Alps, plunged down a ravine and burst into flames.

A concert by British rock singer Rod Stewart, which had been planned for Tuesday in the largely Catholic country, was cancelled. Organizers were to decide on Monday whether to reschedule a Wednesday concert by the Rolling Stones.

"This is probably one of the worst catastrophes in decades and I think organizers and guests -- Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones -- will understand," Sport and Tourism Minister Elzbieta Jakubiak told Polish radio.

The pilgrims, from the Szczecin area of northwest Poland, had been due to return home on Tuesday after two weeks in Spain and France. A further 24 people were injured in the crash.

Transport Minister Jerzy Polaczek said the brakes of the coach appeared to have failed. Deputy health minister Boleslaw Piecha, who visited the injured at a hospital in Grenoble, said three pilgrims remained in critical condition. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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