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WATCH: Over 130 cars involved in deadly pileup on Belgian highway

BRUSSELS, Belgium – More than 130 vehicles were involved in three pileups at a highway in western Belgium in a dense morning fog Tuesday, leaving at least one dead and 76 injured.

Medical workers struggled to free injured passengers from the twisted metal of their vehicles for hours after the crash, troubled by continuing fog, which made emergency rescue by helicopter impossible.

A picture shows rescue services at the site of a multiple collision accident on the A19 highway towards Kortrijk, near Zonnebeke-Beselare, on December 3, 2013.
A picture shows rescue services at the site of a multiple collision accident on the A19 highway towards Kortrijk, near Zonnebeke-Beselare, on December 3, 2013. ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images

The provincial governor, Carl Decaluwe, said one person had died, and that among the injured, five were in life-threatening condition while 11 sustained serious injuries.

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The highway in Zonnebeke, linking the regional industrial hub of Kortrijk to nearby Ieper, was strewn with debris in three locations close to one another. The damp and cold conditions in early December often create fog, but drivers said it felt like a white wall of fog suddenly appeared, and immediately decreased virtually all visibility.

As the fog slowly lifted, the harrowing scene showed dozens of wrecked cars, some overturned and others forming a trail of destruction along a mid-road shoulder.

GALLERY: Massive multi-car pileup on Belgium’s A19 highway towards Kortrijk, near Zonnebeke-Beselare

Firemen try to extract a truck driver from the wreckage of his vehicle at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Firemen try to extract a truck driver from the wreckage of his vehicle at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked cars at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked cars at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked trucks at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked trucks at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows a firefighter standing near wrecked vehicles at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows a firefighter standing near wrecked vehicles at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked trucks at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked trucks at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked trucks at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked trucks at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
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A picture shows wrecked cars at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows wrecked cars at the site of a multiple collision accident on highway A19 towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. At least one person was killed in the accident, which involved 40 to 50 vehicles, blocking the motorway in both directions. The accident was caused by dense fog. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows the site of a multiple collision accident at the A19 highway towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
A picture shows the site of a multiple collision accident at the A19 highway towards Kortrijk near Zonnebeke-Beselare on December 3, 2013. (ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the  A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the  A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the  A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the  A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Vehicle wreckages are pictured on the A19 highway near Zonnebeke-Beselare after a multiple collision accident caused by dense fog on December 3, 2013. At least one person died in the accident involving 40 to 50 vehicles. The A19 is blocked in both directions. (KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images).

A truck slammed against the side of the road while one threw its cargo of animal feed over the road. Another spilled its manure, slumping next to several cars crumpled together like paper balls.

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At first medical workers had trouble getting to the three separate crash sites because other smaller accidents were blocking access to the main road.

Some victims were left stuck in their cars for hours, with temperatures hovering close to freezing. Emergency crews handed out thermal blankets to people who were still caught in their cars.

It took six hours before an emergency declaration could be lifted.

In 1996, a similar pileup nearby had left 10 people dead.