Eleven killed in train crash in northern Victoria, Australia

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Swan Hill station on the Swan Hill railway line.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Eleven people have been killed, and more than 20 injured, when a V/Line passenger train and a semi trailer collided at a level crossing on the Murray Valley Highway in northern Victoria, Australia. At least 13 more are still missing and are believed to be trapped in the wreckage.

The collision, which occurred at 1:40 p.m. local time, was approximately 10 km north of the town of Kerang, on the Swan Hill railway line.

The train involved in the accident was a service from Swan Hill, which departed at 1:00 p.m. from Swan Hill railway station, and was destined for Melbourne. The train was comprised of a locomotive and three carriages.

Witness reports say that the semi-trailer collided into the second of the three carriages, and then detached the third carriage from the remainder of the train and causing it to derail. The whole side of the second carriage was ripped open from the direct impact of the semi-trailer.

A map of the crash site.

The injured have been transferred from the scene to hospitals in the area, including Kerang and Mildura, by ambulance. Helicopters and light aircraft have been used to transfer patients to Melbourne, as local hospitals struggle with the sudden influx of patients. The driver of the semi-trailer has been moved to the hospital in Mildura in "critical condition", according to police at the scene.

The train had 39 people on board the 1:00 p.m. service, according to train documents. This included three staff employed by the train operator V/Line, who have all been accounted for and are not injured. Of the 36 passengers on the train, it has been reported that 23 have suffered injuries.

Reports say six people were airlifted to Melbourne for treatment, however one has since died. The remaining 17 have been moved to regional hospitals, including the temporary relief centre in Kerang, according to a Rural Ambulance Service spokesperson.

Although there are still 13 people unaccounted for, police say it is possible that some had bought tickets and were therefore listed on the train manifest, but did not end up catching the service.

Premier of Victoria Steve Bracks is expected to fly to the crash scene this evening. He has ordered a full investigation into the incident. Federal Minister for Transport Mark Vaile has offered Federal government assistance from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to help with the investigation. The Prime Minister John Howard has offered the Victorian government any additional aid that is requires in the aftermath of this incident.

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Train operator V/Line have set up an emergency hotline to assist relatives and friends of those on the train receive information. The number is 1800 800 120.


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