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Two injured after train derails in cyclone flooding

Tuesday December 27, 2011 - 16:08 EDT
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Train derailed: A carriage and container caught in floodwaters. In the foreground is a damaged section of the Stuart Highway. -

Two men have been injured after they were trapped in a freight train that was swept off a bridge near Katherine, south of Darwin.

The 20-carriage train derailed near the Edith Falls River Crossing in floodwaters caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Grant.

Heavy rain from the system, which is , has brought heavy rain and isolated flooding to the Northern Territory, cutting sections of the Stuart Highway.

Hundreds of local residents have also been stranded.

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Police say the train's driver and co-driver have been rescued by emergency workers. One of the men has been airlifted to hospital with back injuries.

Earlier, a CareFlight helicopter attempted to rescue the men but had to return to Darwin because it was unable to land in the wet conditions.



Member for Katherine, Willem Westra Van Holthe, says the Edith River Bridge has collapsed and carriages are floating downstream.

"It's what I'd describe as a scene of devastation here," he said.

"Apart from the enormous amount of water flowing across the road, there's sheets of bitumen that have been lifted off and carried away and also it appears as though the train tried to get across this morning while the river has flooded.

"The train bridge appears to have collapsed and there are carriages in the water."

Emergency services are on the scene. A hazardous chemicals sign on the side of one of the containers says it holds a substance containing copper hydroxide, which is toxic.

Swept away

NT police have also rescued two people who were swept from their car in the flooding.

A man and a woman were swept off the roof of their car on the Edith River Bridge after it aquaplaned and stalled about 2:00am (local time).

They were able to cling to a tree about 50 metres downstream and were rescued a short time later.

Elizabeth Robinson and her family also became stranded in floodwaters on their neighbours' property this morning.

She says they sheltered on a bulldozer until they were rescued in a boat.

"We were wading through chest-deep water with quite a current," she said.

Flood warning

NT Emergency Service volunteers are responding to numerous calls for help as a flood warning is in effect for some low-lying parts of Katherine.

There are road closures at the Edith River Bridge Crossing and the Cullen River Crossing in the Pine Creek and Douglas Daly region.

NT Police spokesman Tony Deutrom says officers in the area have been monitoring the situation.

"From Pine Creek south we've got police on site and have been in and out through the night," he said.

"In Katherine up to Edith Bridge, emergency services have been out during the night as well.

"The Katherine emergency operations centre's been activated overnight."

Tropical Cyclone Grant moved through Kakadu National Park yesterday as a category one system and weakened as it edged close to Jabiru.

Meanwhile, the weather bureau has declared a cyclone watch for Territory coastal areas of north-east Arnhem Land and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

It predicts ex-Tropical Cyclone Grant will reform over the Gulf on Thursday.

The watch covers Nhulunbuy to Numbalwar, including Groote Eylandt.


- ABC

© ABC 2011

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