Belgian train crash: Eighteen people dead in Halle
Bart Ouvry, Belgian Foreign Department: "We have a great number of victims"
Eighteen people have been killed in a head-on collision between two passenger trains in Belgium, although the death toll could rise.
Railway officials said the trains collided during the morning rush hour at Halle, south-west of Brussels. One reportedly missed a stop signal.
"The devastation is enormous," said an official, as bloodied passengers were helped from the wrecked carriages.
Rail services to south-western Belgium, Paris and London were cancelled.
There were varying reports about the death toll, but eight hours after the crash the crisis centre set up to deal with the accident said 15 men and three women had been killed.
AT THE SCENE
Matt Cole, BBC News, Halle
As word spread about what is believed to be Belgium's worst railway crash in 30 years, crowds of onlookers began to gather. Among them were small children, being raised aloft by their parents to stare at the scene on the first day of their half-term holiday.
The walking wounded were taken from the crash site and up a hill to a nearby sports centre, where they received basic medical care. Outside people with sombre faces hugged each other as all around the numbers of emergency personnel grew.
A fellow passenger, Patricia Lallemand, said: "When we came out we saw dead bodies lying next to the tracks."
Infrabel said one train had been going from Leuven to Braine-le-Comte while the second train had been travelling from Quievrain to Liege.
The accident led to the cancellation of services between Brussels and Tournai or Mons. And Eurostar said its Brussels trains, including those to and from the UK, were cancelled until further notice.
Other high-speed trains between Paris and Brussels have also been cancelled.
In 2001, eight people were killed and 12 were injured in a head-on collision between commuter trains outside Brussels. It was thought that language difficulties between a Flemish-speaking signalman and a French-speaking colleague were a factor in that crash.
Another accident in 2008 left more than 40 people injured when a passenger train travelling in the wrong direction hit a goods train in central Belgium, AFP news agency said.
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