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Belgian train crash kills 18

Two commuter trains crashed head-on outside Brussels after one ran a stop light, killing at least 18 people and injuring 80 others, a Belgian official said.
Rescue workers attend the scene of the head-on crash near Halle, 15 kilometres southwest of Brussels. ((Yves Logghe/Associated Press))

Two commuter trains crashed head-on outside Brussels on Monday, after one ran a stoplight, killing at least 18 people and injuring 80 others, a Belgian official said.

Other officials said the death toll was higher.

The trains collided during the morning rush hour near Halle, 15 kilometres southwest of Brussels, just outside Buizingen station.

The force of the collision smashed one train deep into the front of the other, peeling back the metal sides. Some carriages tipped high into the air and broke overhead power lines.

One of the cars destroyed a small maintenance shed next to the rail line. Nearby houses were shielded from damage by a high concrete wall.

Lodewijk De Witte, the governor of the province of Flemish Brabant, said one train "apparently did not heed a stoplight." He added the death toll was expected to rise.

'It was a nightmare'

Among the 80 injured, 20 were considered to be in serious condition. The most seriously hurt were taken to hospitals, while those with minor injuries were taken to a sports complex for treatment.

"It was a nightmare," said Christian Wampach, 47, a passenger who was in the third car of one of the trains. He spoke to The Associated Press after his head was bandaged at the centre.

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

The collision, around 8:30 a.m. local time, came after a weekend of snow and freezing temperatures across Belgium. At the time of the accident, it was snowing lightly in the region.

After the crash, Eurostar said it had suspended its high-speed train service in and out of Brussels.

With files from The Associated Press

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