by Laura Douxfils and Philippine d'Ursel
BRUSSELS, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Two passenger trains crashed head on near Brussels in the early rush hours on Monday, leaving probably dozens of people dead and others shocked by the nightmare.
|Emergency crew work on the site where two trains crashed near Halle February 15, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
"It happened very fast. Our wagon got in a position across the railroad. There was someone lying on the floor. She had the legs crushed and cut. She died," a man, who survived the deadly accident, told a Xinhua reporter at the scene.
The man of around 40 years old said he waited 45 minutes for help. Fortunately, he managed to get out of the train through the crashed window.
"We are shocked but I realize that I am very lucky. When I came out, I saw bodies lying down on the railroad tracks," he said.
Leire Wira, a local resident whose house is very near the scene, told Xinhua that he was woken by the collision.
"It was terrible. The emergency teams were there, but it is difficult to get access to the carriages," he said.
The accident happened near the Belgium town of Halle, some 15 kilometers southwest of Brussels, during the early morning rush hours.
There have been conflicting reports about the casualties. Local broadcaster VRT cited the mayor of Halle as saying at least 20 died and many others were injured, while Belgian National Railways said 25 people were killed.
A spokesperson of Belgian rail and track operator Infrabel, Bram de Saedeleer, said that "this is the most serious railway accident that happened."
The latest major train accident in 2001 killed 8 and injured 12.
"At this time the outcome is confirmed. This accident killed 10 people and injured 26 people that were transferred to the hospital. Among those 26 peoples, 10 are very seriously injured," de Saedeleer said.
He added that he was stricken by the silence that remained after the accident.
"I assisted to the evacuation of the victims, and I was expecting a lot of panic, but the people remained silent. They were shocked. The collision impressed me because the trains were lifted by two meters in the air," he said, adding now the trains were completely evacuated.
Video footage showed that the first two carriages of a train were pushed up into the air as a result of the force of the impact, with first carriage of the other train held underneath.
Luckily, a third train managed to stop before touching the pieces of the trains involved in the accident. Since it is currently school vacation, there were much fewer kids in the train than in normal days.
The cause for this accident was still unknown. The investigations from the public persecutor's office are still running with the help of Infrabel and Belgian Railways (SNCB).
De Saedeleer said he had no figure of how many people were in the train, but since it was the rush hour, the trains should be full.
Railway officials estimated that around half of the passengers were injured.
Infrabel spokeswomen, Corine Athas, said that the train connections between Brussels and the south, including the high- speed line between Brussels and Paris and the Eurostar train service between Brussels and London, were going to be disrupted all day long because of this accident. She did not say when it would go back to normal.
Railway traffic linking France, Belgium suspended after train crash
PARIS, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Railway traffic between France and Belgium was suspended Monday due to a fatal train collision in Belgium, according to a statement of French national railway operator SNCF.
"To allow emergency rescue work, the SNCF has suspended rail traffic between France and Belgium for the whole day," the statement said. Full story
Train collision kills at least 20 outside Brussels
|Emergency crew work on the site where two trains crashed near Halle February 15, 2010. Two trains crashed head-on outside Brussels on Monday, killing at least 20 people, officials and Belgian broadcaster VRT said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
BRUSSELS, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- At least 20 people were killed on Monday morning after two passenger trains collided head-on outside Brussels, local media reported. Full story