Second sinkhole in Brussels sees evacuation and damage to rail line

Summary

The second sinkhole in a week opened up in Brussels yesterday, with residents of Sint-Joost evacuated and the rail tunnel from South to Schuman stations closed

Rail traffic diverted

Some 200 residents of Sint-Joost-ten-Node in Brussels have been evacuated from their homes after a sinkhole appeared in the busy Leuvensesteenweg. The sinkhole was caused by a broken water pipe.

The excess water also caused the railway tunnel linking Brussels North Station and Schuman Station to flood with mud, closing the tunnel to trains.

Rail traffic from Brussels to Flanders is relatively unaffected, a spokesperson for rail authority NMBS said. Trains heading to the southern part of the country, however, are being diverted via Leuven, adding 20 to 30 minutes to travel times.

The situation is expected to continue throughout the whole of next week until the mud can be cleared and damaged infrastructure repaired, the spokesperson said.

The appearance of the sinkhole yesterday (pictured) led to traffic diversions via Ambiorixsquare and Daillyplein, with buses from both De Lijn and the MIVB affected. A spokesperson for De Lijn said the disruption was limited, however.

The portion of Leuvensesteenweg at Clovislaan, where the sinkhole occurred, is expected to be closed for one to two months, water authority Vivaqua said.

Residents who were evacuated were offered shelter in a sports hall on nearby Sint-Joostplein. It remains unclear how long those evacuated will have to remain away from their homes, according to spokesperson Charline Six, speaking to Bruzz. “We have as yet no concrete plans,” she said.

Sint-Joost mayor Emir Kir was due to meet with the various parties involved today. “Hopefully then we will know more,” said Six.

The Sint-Joost sinkhole is the second to open up in Brussels in a week’s time. Kardinaal Mercierstraat, near Central station in Brussels, remains closed to traffic after a 4x6 metre sinkhole opened up in the road surface last week.

The cause of that sinkhole is not yet known, but may be linked to heavy rainfall on Wednesday. Repair works are expected to take several weeks.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA

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