A passenger train travelling at high speed has crashed into the back of a freight train in the eastern Belgian municipality of Saint-Georges-Sur-Meuse, killing three people and injuring dozens.
“A train… carrying around 40 passengers crashed into the back of a freight train on the same track,” Belgian railways SNCB said in a statement. “The collision derailed two of the six carriages.”
Françis Dejon, the mayor of the Saint-Georges-Sur-Meuse district told Belga news agency three people were dead and 40 injured in the crash, according to a preliminary estimate. He said the impact of the crash was “very violent”.
The accident occurred on the line linking Namur and Liege in the east of the country.
Local emergency services and reinforcements from Liege were at the site of the crash.
Frederic Sacre, spokesman for Belgian railway infrastructure manager Infrabel, said the crash took place when the passenger train was travelling at high speed.
RTL broadcasting said the passenger train carrying about 40 people had been traveling at 55mph (90kph) when it hit the freight train shortly after 11pm.
The front carriage was completely turned on its side, witnesses said, and several passengers had to be extracted from the wreckage.
A person who had been on board described the scene as “chaos” to the local daily newspaper L’Avenir, saying that the front two carriages had been destroyed.
The crash took place around one hour before midnight on Sunday, the Belgian railways statement said.
The circumstances of the accident were not immediately clear, with questions remaining over whether the passenger train was able to brake before the crash.
“The priority is to care for the victims,” Infrabel and SNCB said, but added that information was already being analysed to determine how the crash took place.
A crisis centre was set up at the scene of the accident.
By 2am, all passengers had been freed from the wrecked cars, RTL said. Some of the survivors were taken to a nearby abbey. Others were reportedly transported to a local sports center, where they were being offered psychological counselling.