One dead in Australian rail smash

STEPHEN CAUCHI AND CHRIS HINGSTON
Last updated 19:19 03/11/2012
Dandenong South, Australia
Fairfax

Scene of a collision between a train and a semi-trailer in Dandenong South, Australia.

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One person is dead and up to 13 others are injured in a collision involving a train and a truck in Melbourne's south-east.

Police said a man was found under rubble in a carriage suffering cardiac arrest following the collision at a level crossing on Abbotts Road, Dandenong South, at 11.41am (local time).

Paramedics treated the man but he died at the scene.

The driver of the train had to be freed from the wreckage, and has been taken to The Alfred hospital.

Police said the accident was caused when the truck - a prime mover and trailer - attempted to drive west across the Abbott Street level crossing when it was struck by a passenger train, which was travelling to Cranbourne.

One of the train carriages tipped over while three other carriages derailed. The train hit the truck's rear.

The front carriage on the six-car train jack-knifed, derailing and overturning it, while others came to rest on their sides across and beside the tracks.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman Ray Rowe said paramedics gave the driver fluids and oxygen as emergency services worked to free him.

He has a lower leg injury and is in a serious but stable condition. The male truck driver, 59, of Narre Warren North walked away uninjured. Police said he is now assisting with their inquiries.

Four passengers were taken to Dandenong Hospital and three to Frankston Hospital, all with minor injuries.

Ambulance Victoria group manager Andrew Watson said that the train driver was speaking with paramedics while being rescued.

Mr Watson said the truck driver had "an amazing escape" and was saddened at what had happened.

Metro Trains said train services on the Pakenham line between Dandenong and Cranbourne will be suspended, with buses to replace trains.

Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives are at the scene and are investigating the collision.

Police are investigating how the collision occured. The level crossing has boom gates.

Angelo Galluccio, the owner of a mechanics restoration business next to the level crossing, said: "There was this massive sonic boom; the factory was shaking. You could just hear the train derailing and going through the gravel. I just couldn't believe what had happened."

Mr Galluccio went outside and used caution markers to stop traffic coming through the crossing.

"I've never seen anything like it, You only see it on the movies."

A woman who was coming to pick up a limousine from Mr Galluccio's business, April Charles, arrived 30 minutes after the train derailed.

"I could have been on that train," she said. "I had either the option of bus or train to pick up my car. I went with bus. It's just horrible."

Brett Ferguson, whose office window looks onto the tracks, described "a rumble".

"The front carriage came off the tracks and the rest of the train just kept pushing it," he said.

"I'm a little bit shaken. You don't see that every day. I'm just worried about the passengers."

-The Melbourne Age, with AAP and Nick Toscano

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