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Bridge collapse blocks Brussels-Scheldt canal traffic

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GRIMBERGEN, Belgium (Reuters) – All traffic on Belgium’s Brussels-Willebroek Canal, a freight link between the capital and the Scheldt estuary around Antwerp, was halted on Thursday until at least early Saturday and probably longer after a bridge accident.

Officials were still assessing the damage to the Humbeek Bridge, which lifts on cables to let ships and barges pass beneath, a spokesman for the Port of Brussels authority said.

No one was hurt, local police said.

A spokesman for the waterways authority in Flanders, the region where the bridge near Grimbergen is located, said that a crisis meeting had been convened for 3 p.m. (1400 GMT).

Reuters journalists at the site, 15 km (10 miles) north of Brussels city centre, saw the roadway of the bridge had smashed into a waterside cabin.

A local government official said the opening of the bridge was normally handled by remote operators watching traffic on the canal via video cameras.

The canal carries some 13 million tonnes of bulk container traffic annually, the Flemish waterways spokesman said.

(Reporting by Clement Rossignol, Clare Roth and Alastair Macdonald; editing by Jason Neely)

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