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Belgian train crash

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Belgian train crash: Eighteen people dead in Halle

Monday, 15 February 2010

Eighteen people have been killed in a head-on collision between two passenger trains in Belgium, although the death toll could rise.

Railway officials said the trains collided during the morning rush hour at Halle, south-west of Brussels. One reportedly missed a stop signal.

"The devastation is enormous," said an official, as bloodied passengers were helped from the wrecked carriages.

Rail services to south-western Belgium, Paris and London were cancelled.

There were varying reports about the death toll, but eight hours after the crash the crisis centre set up to deal with the accident said 15 men and three women had been killed.

Other officials were reported as saying up to 25 people had died. There were reports of passengers still trapped in the wreckage hours after the crash.

'Enormous devastation'

The two trains collided in the commuter town around 0830 local time (0730 GMT).

The governor of Flemish Brabant province, Lodewijk De Witte, said one of the trains seemed to have missed a stop signal.

Belgium's track operator Infrabel said an investigation into the accident was under way, and it was difficult to speculate on the cause at this stage.

Television pictures showed carriages pushed up at an angle or leaning to the side from the force of the crash.

Witnesses said people were thrown around violently inside the trains with one passenger describing the "carriages compacted together" by the collision.

The two trains were carrying a total of about 250 to 300 people, a rail official said, AFP news agency reported.

Emergency workers said there was considerable damage to the overhead power lines at the station in Buizingen, the district of Halle where the trains crashed.

"The devastation is enormous," said Infrabel spokesman Bram De Saedeleer.

"Officials of the public prosecutor's office are at the scene and will supervise the investigation. Our first concern is for the victims."

Doctors were treating some of the injured at the scene of the crash, including performing amputations, while others had been taken to nearby hospitals.

Slightly injured passengers, said to number about 150, were taken to a sports hall for treatment.

But there has been confusion over the number of people killed and injured in the collision.

Belgian broadcaster VRT reported that sources with the national railway operator said 25 people had been killed, but the operator, SNCB, said it had not released an official figure.

Local mayor Dirk Pieters said "the most recent information we have is that 20 people died. I base this on what the police and firefighters tell me."


One passenger in the third carriage, Christian Wampach, told AP news agency: "It was a nightmare.

"We were thrown about for about 15 seconds. There were a number of people injured in my car but I think all the dead were in the first car."

A fellow passenger, Patricia Lallemand, said: "When we came out we saw dead bodies lying next to the tracks."

Infrabel said one train had been going from Leuven to Braine-le-Comte while the second train had been travelling from Quievrain to Liege.

The accident led to the cancellation of services between Brussels and Tournai or Mons. And Eurostar said its Brussels trains, including those to and from the UK, were cancelled until further notice.

Other high-speed trains between Paris and Brussels have also been cancelled.

In 2001, eight people were killed and 12 were injured in a head-on collision between commuter trains outside Brussels. It was thought that language difficulties between a Flemish-speaking signalman and a French-speaking colleague were a factor in that crash.

Another accident in 2008 left more than 40 people injured when a passenger train travelling in the wrong direction hit a goods train in central Belgium, AFP news agency said.

Source: BBC

The page is still being updated every now and then.


I know several people who take the train in the station near where this happened. I seriously hope they're all safe.

A serial killer, a gas explosion in Liège, problems in one part of Brussels and now a train crash! This all happened in about 6 weeks. I think we have had enough bad stuff so far in 2010.

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