At least 25 were feared dead and dozens more injured after two commuter trains collided during the rush hour in the worst rail accident in Belgium for 30 years today.
Eurostar has suspended services between London and Brussels following the head-on collision. Local police have confirmed several critical injuries, but there has been no firm number of casualties.
Rescuers battled freezing temperatures for hours to free people trapped inside the overturned carriages and doctors were reported to have carried out amputations at the scene.
The rail track operator Infrabel said the two trains had crashed head on. One train was travelling from Leuven to Braine-le-Comte. The second train was on its way from Quiévrain to Liège. They collided at Buizingen, near Halle, around 12km south-west of Brussels, at around 8.30am local time. A third train may have been involved.
The cause of the crash is not known, but snowfall in recent days has caused severe disruption to transport links in and around the captial.
Speaking to the Flemish state broadcaster, the mayor of Halle said there could be up to 20 dead, echoing the interior ministry’s early estimates.
“Services in and out of Brussels are completely suspended until further notice,” Eurostar said in a statement. “It is possible that services remain suspended all day.” The Paris-London route is not affected.
The high-speed Thalys service linking Paris and Brussels has also been suspended.