Human error blamed for fatal commuter rail crash

Rail officials believe that human error caused the fatal rail crash in Belgium.

Rail officials believe that human error caused the fatal rail crash in Belgium.

A packed commuter train crashed head-on into an oncoming train near Brussels, killing eight people.

Officials believe that the conductor of the empty train failed to notice a red signal light at the previous station before heading off towards Leuven.

Nine others were injured as twisted carriages trapped survivors and victims for hours.

The death toll could still rise as emergency services cut into the wreckage to search for more bodies or survivors. A 13-year-old was among those killed.

An empty train was travelling on the wrong tracks at about 55mph when it crashed into a train crowded with rush-hour passengers in the village of Pecrot, 15 miles from the Belgian capital, said Leen Uyterhoeven, spokeswoman for the national SNCB-NMBS rail company.

Nine hours after the crash, rescue workers where still trying to get to some of the passengers. The injured were ferried to several local hospitals. At least three were seriously injured.

The four carriages of the south bound passenger train were crushed on impact as the empty train ploughed into them, ending up on top of one passenger car. The mangled lead carriage of the empty train was pointing skyward resting on the other train below.

Both drivers were killed, along with one other railroad official.

"It's more than certain a human error was at the origin," said SNCB-NMBS chief executive Etienne Schouppe.

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