Railways has confirmed that the Indian Pacific Railway (IPR) train which crashed into a barrier at Palmetto Railway Station in the western Australian state of Queensland has killed and injured more than 70 people.
The National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday that it had received reports of at least 43 deaths, with two others seriously injured.
The NTSB said it was assisting authorities in the state’s capital, Brisbane, and a number of other states with their investigations.
“The incident happened in a busy section of track and we believe that the train was travelling at about 65 kilometres per hour at the time of impact,” the NTSB’s deputy chairman, Mark Bausch, said.
“It appears that the driver was travelling between Palmetton and Adelaide, and then, as the train accelerated, he veered into the barrier, crossed the barrier and then collided with the barrier.”
The NTSBR said it had begun investigating the crash.
The incident occurred on Friday evening, when the train had just left Perth for the weekend.
“There were approximately four passengers travelling on the train when the driver lost control of the train and hit the barrier,” the company said in a statement.
“At the time the train hit the barriers, the train driver was not wearing a seat belt, which is a safety requirement.”‘
He’s going to die’The train was carrying 674 people and was travelling from Adelaide to Melbourne when it derailed.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the train’s driver was a 49-year-old Australian.
The spokeswoman said he was from Queensland and had been employed by the company for nearly four years.
“He’s a man of great character and will be sorely missed,” she said.
The train’s operator, the Indian Railways’ (IRL), said it did not yet know how the driver’s death was linked to the accident.
“We can confirm that the incident that occurred at Palmetton is the first fatality that the IRL is aware of,” the IRF said in an emailed statement.
“This is a tragic and unfortunate incident that we will learn from.”
The Australian Transport Industry Association (ATIA), which represents train operators, said the driver had been on the job for 10 years.
It said it supported the state and federal governments’ investigations.
In a statement, the association said the “full details of the investigation” would be made available later.
“Safety is our number one priority,” the statement said.
“We are grateful to all who have worked with us during this tragic incident and will continue to work with authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, customers and communities.”
The Associated Press