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    Body of missing student found in canal

    Divers from the Vilvoorde fire brigade work on the Brussels-Scheldt canal searching for a sign of the missing student © Thierry Roge/Belga

    The body of the missing student Frederik Vanclooster (21) has been recovered from the Brussels-Scheldt canal at Vilvoorde.

    Frederik went missing on the night of 31 December to 1 January after last being seen at around 03.00. The alarm was raised when he failed to return home. On New Year’s Day itself a group of volunteers gathered to carry out a search near the place where he was last seen, the events hall De Kruitfabriek in Vilvoorde. They picked up the search again on Thursday, by now accompanied by the missing persons unit of the federal police.

    On Friday, Brussels fire service set about sounding the canal using divers from Vilvoorde and a sonar boat, but without result. They announced they would be resuming the search

    on Tuesday.

    In the meantime, on Saturday the missing persons unit called in a helicopter to help them search the River Senne between Vilvoorde and the point near Mechelen where it joins the Dijle. Meanwhile the firemen had decided to resume their search of a stretch of the canal between the viaduct on the Ring and the Kruitfabriek, a distance of some 600m. As Alain Remue, head of the missing persons unit made clear on Saturday, if Frederik had gone into the water at New Year, there was no hope he might still be alive.

    This morning, Sunday, it was reported that the divers with their sonar boat were back out on the canal from 09.00. Our divers are impatient,” said Vilvoorde mayor Hans Bonte by way of explanation. “That’s why they decided on this kind act. Out of compassion and commitment.”

    Remue went further. “We had an offer from the divers from the Vilvoorde fire service to see if they could help out. Our technical team will go out with the divers to check right by the banks of the canal, from the Kruitfabriek in the direction of the viaduct, because that’s the area that interests us most. It’s no simple job: the ground is covered in rubbish there. It’s going to be slow, but it’s very useful that we’re able to do it.”

    In the event it took less time than Remue had anticipated. Frederik’s remains were discovered before 11.30.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times