The heatwave over most of western Europe is thought to have caused a train crash at Neufvilles in southern Belgium which killed at least 20 people and injured nearly 100 others on Sunday (27 June).
The heatwave over most of western Europe is thought to have caused a train crash at Neufvilles in southern Belgium which killed at least 20 people and injured nearly 100 others on Sunday (27 June). Reuters News Agency reported that one of the rails may have buckled in the heat, derailing the Brussels-Paris express.
SYNOPSIS: The 12 car train was derailed near Neufvilles station -- five coaches were thrown off the track. A Belgian railway spokesman said a Trans European express coming the other way would have collided with the wreckage but the driver was warned just in time. Fleets of ambulances ferried the dead and injured to local hospitals. This section of railway between Brussels and Mons has seen some of Belgium's worst train disasters including the accident two years ago when a train jumped the rails just north of Mons killing 17 people.
The temperature in Belgium was around 32 degrees centigrade throughout the weekend and it is thought the heat may have snapped a rail by causing the steel to expand and bend. Last year another Amsterdam to Paris express jumped the track near the same spot and dropped down a 15 foot embankment. 76 people were inured but no one was killed. Belgium's Minister of Transport M. Jos Chabert arrived during the afternoon, but he told journalists he could not comment until he had toured the scene of the accident himself.
The luckier passengers were soon discharged form the local hospitals. Some suffered from minor cuts or shock. Most of those in the coaches which stayed on the track were able to continue their journey -- but even for them there were difficulties, other express trains had to be diverted via Mons. The crash disrupted all rail traffic between Brussels and the south and by Sunday night the exact death toll was still unknown.