Train, truck collide at Orari

03:58, Aug 20 2014
train
Emergency services at the scene of the collision near Orari.
train
The scene of the collision between a truck and train.
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Emergency services at the scene of the crash.
train
Emergency services at the scene of the crash.
Orari truck and train crash driver
RESCUE CHOPPER: The truck driver arrives at Christchurch Hospital.
Orari truck and train crash
The driver is transferred into a waiting helicopter.
Orari truck and train crash
An aerial shot showing the crash site.

A 21-year-old truck driver has been flown to Christchurch Hospital after in a collision between a train and a truck in South Canterbury.

Police at the scene said the Temuka man, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle, was in a serious but stable condition.

His Temuka Transport truck and a northbound freight train collided at the Arundel-Belfield Rd level crossing between Rangitata and Temuka about 11.10am.

Fire Service assistant area manager Steven Greenyer said at first it was thought the truck was carrying hazardous material; however, white powder at the scene turned out to be lime.

The crossing is controlled by stop signs.

The train driver saw the truck on the crossing and activated the emergency brakes but was unable to stop prior to colliding with the middle to rear of the truck. The truck spun 180 degrees before coming to rest 20 to 30 metres from the crossing.

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Geraldine sergeant Murray Thatcher, who was one of the first on the scene, said passing motorists had assisted the truck driver prior to emergency services arriving.

The train driver and another person in the cab were shaken but not hurt.

Police from Geraldine, Temuka and Timaru attended along with six fire engines from Geraldine, Rangitata and Timaru.

Pilot Bevan Dewes was sitting in his plane at the airfield near the crash site when he heard the whistle from the train and then a crash shortly after 11.10am.

He then flew over the accident site and said there was white powder along the side of the train.

A KiwiRail spokesman said the train driver has been stood down.

"KiwiRail will also be investigating the incident, and we will be providing support for our driver."

The Timaru Herald