Carnage on rail track
FROM the ground it was a surprise nobody died. From the air it seemed a miracle nobody had.
But 163 people survived when the Brisbane to Cairns Tilt Train derailed on Monday night about 11.55pm, 40 kilometres south east of Miriam Vale.
With eight of the nine carriages leaving the line, three carriages finished on their side.
The most seriously injured suffered spinal, chest and abdominal injuries.
Only two were being cared for in intensive care. Three passengers were admitted to Gladstone Hospital with unknown injuries.
More than 100 passengers were transported from the crash site to hospitals by helicopter, ambulance and bus in one of the state's biggest emergency responses in history.
They were treated in Gladstone, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. Premier Peter Beattie visited the site yesterday and was amazed that nobody had been killed.
"We were horrified to see from a helicopter the wreckage of the train,'' Mr Beattie said.
"I believe two things contributed to the fact that 163 people were able to escape with their lives: the structure of the tilt train and the quick responses of everyone concerned.''
Miriam Vale Shire mayor Tom Jeffery was on the scene by 1.30am and was shocked by the accident.
"It was pretty frightening,'' Cr Jeffery said.
"When we first got there we thought the worst.
"Then as the area was lit up you would have thought things would be a lot worse than what they were.''
The train, called the City of Townsville, was travelling on a stretch of track with a maximum speed limit of 150kph when the accident happened. It was leading up to a bend at the time of the crash. Queensland Rail's corporate affairs manager Lily Harrison said crash investigators would have to wait until the black box was recovered before the speed of the train at the time of the accident could be determined.
She said the crash would be investigated by experts from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.