A train carrying chemicals derails in Belgium, kills two and forcing hundreds to flee their homes as deadly fumes spread
A train carrying chemicals derails in Belgium, killing two and forcing hundreds to flee their homes as deadly fumes spread

Two people have died after a train carrying highly toxic chemicals was derailed in Belgium and burst into flames.

Jan Briers, governor of eastern Flanders confirmed that there were two fatalities and 14 injured, although authorities later announced 17 people were admitted to hospital.

The accident happened around 2am local time on Saturday, between the towns of Schellebelle and Wetteren, near the city of Ghent.

Six of the train's 13 cars came off the tracks and caught fire, causing a number of explosions.

The fumes from the chemicals spread rapidly through a drainage system and authorities evacuated nearly 300 people from their homes, according to ABC News.

Some of the casualties were people living some distance from the scene of the accident. Interior Minister Joelle Milquet blamed toxic gases from the highly flammable liquid chemicals.

"There are two problems," she said. "There are the cars that derailed with this chemical product and which are ablaze, so there is a problem of poisoning linked to the smoke.

"The fire is under control but it will burn a while longer. But there is also another reaction.

"Some of the chemical product went into the drains and caused a kind of chemical reaction with gases that are toxic and escaped into certain streets beyond the perimeter that had already been evacuated due to the fire."

The cause of the accident is unclear, but some sources say the train might have been travelling too fast and derailed as it attempted to change tracks.

Two similar accidents involving trains carrying tanks of toxic products occurred in Belgium in May 2012.