20 feared dead in head-on Brussels train crash

BRUSSELS; Two packed commuter trains collided head on during rush hour outside a snow-covered Brussels today killing up to 20 people and injuring 150

amid scenes of bloody chaos, officials said.

The crash left a mass of twisted metal and several carriages on their side, according to witnesses, while an official said doctors were carrying out amputations at the scene. Blood-stained wounded were rushed on stretchers towards ambulances along the tracks amid ongoing snowfall.

The death tolls varied but

just after 1:00 pm (1200 GMT), the Brussels investigating

magistrate put the toll at between 18 and 20 dead.

Halle mayor Dirk Pieters told Flemish public television VRT that there are “at least 20 dead.” Scores more were said to be injured with emergency services adding that survivors were being treated for shock. All Monday Eurostar high-speed train services to and from London were cancelled as a result of the smash.

High-speed Thalys rail

services to France and elsewhere were also suspended until mid-afternoon at least.

Hours after the crash the scene was one of blood and chaos,

with witnesses speaking of a “very violent” collision in very bad weather conditions after days of snow cover. The injured were led away from the disaster by emergency workers and passers-by, some on stretchers.

The two trains hit each other near the town of Halle, about

15 kilometres (nine miles)

southwest of Brussels in Dutch-speaking Flanders.

Many of the victims were found in a first-class carriage, according to sources at the scene.

The crash happened after

one of the two trains involved

did not stop at a red light,

Brabant-Flamand regional governor Lodewijk De Witte told a press conference.

He said 10 passengers were confirmed dead but added

that some remained to be

discovered or rescued.

The two trains were carrying some 250-300 people in total,

an SNCB rail official said,

adding that 150 were at least lightly injured.

The Belgian government’s secretary of state for mobility, Etienne Schouppe, told the RTBF broadcaster there were many serious injuries at the scene who needed amputations.