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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 06:44 GMT
Train crashes in north Australia
Train crash near Bundaberg (16/11/04)
Seven carriages came off the rails
More than 150 people have been injured in a train crash in northern Australia.

A high-speed passenger service derailed on its way from Brisbane to the tourist resort of Cairns, with 164 on board.

At least five people, including two drivers, were seriously hurt when seven of the train's nine carriages came off the tracks and overturned.

Rail officials said the track was in good condition. This is a major route for passenger and freight trains, and could be blocked for up to three days.

The crash happened early on Monday during a night journey north from the Queensland state capital.

It came off the tracks near the town of Bundaberg, some of the coaches almost sliding on to the Bruce Highway, the major coast road that runs parallel to the railway.

"The train is just a twisted wreck," said one official, adding that it had "ploughed through the dirt like a bulldozer".

It took several hours to free some victims, who suffered rib injuries, spinal injuries, abrasions and abdominal injuries.

The Queensland ambulance service said almost everyone on board suffered injuries, and one person was reported to be in a critical condition.

"Thank God no one was killed," said Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie, who visited the scene of the accident.

"When you look at the site it is in fact a miracle that no one was."

The Tilt Train reaches speeds of 160km/h (100mph), although the section of track where accident happened is only designed for speeds of up to 150km/h (93mph).

"We don't know what speed, yet, the train was doing, but there is a black box recorder on the train and of course that will be one of the key pieces of information," said Bob Scheuber, chief executive of Queensland Rail, which runs the service.




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