A freight train carrying approximately 200,000 litres of sulphuric acid has derailed east of Julia Creek in north-west Queensland.
The locomotive and all 26 carriages derailed at 10:20am about 20 kilometres east of the outback town.
Authorities declared an emergency under the Public Safety Preservation Act and placed a two-kilometre exclusion zone around the crash site.
They said there was minor leakage of sulphuric acid and diesel fuel spillage at the crash site.
Aurizon said three drivers sustained minor injuries in the accident and attended the Julia Creek hospital.
“Two drivers have been released and the third is expected to be released later today,” an Aurizon spokesperson said.
“At this early stage, the cause of the incident is not known. Both Aurizon and Queensland Rail will investigate the incident and determine its cause.
“At this time the focus is on recovery of the incident site.”
The Flinders Highway has been closed in both directions between Julia Creek and Richmond.
Queensland Rail said it was unclear how long the train line would remain closed.
Julia Creek Hotel publican David Wyld said the locomotive went into the bore drain after it rolled and ended up underwater.
“So that would’ve pulled off all the whole 26 carriages with sulphuric acid,” he said.
Mr Wyld said the road was blocked by rail workers immediately after the accident.
“The police and all that couldn’t get to it, blocked the whole road off straight away,” he said.
“And you could smell the sulphuric acid where they actually blocked it off.”
Queensland Rail works to access site
A spokeswoman from Queensland Rail said wet weather had flooded local roads, so they had not been able to get anyone on site to assess the damage.
“We are looking at alternate ways to get Queensland Rail crews to site,” she said.
“Passenger rail services have been cancelled. The Inlander has been cancelled today and tomorrow from Townsville to Mount Isa.
“Updates on passenger services will be made as soon as they are available.”
Aurizon said interim arrangements had been put in place to maintain site safety until the status of the derailed wagons and any product spillage could be confirmed.