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Train carrying sulfuric acid derails in Australia

A two-kilometer exclusion zone has been declared in Queensland after a freight train carrying 200,000 liters of sulfuric acid derailed on Sunday. Police have confirmed a minor leakage of the acid.

Police, who declared an emergency at the crash site 20 kilometers east of the town of Julia Creek, said there had been a minor leakage of sulfuric acid and spillage of diesel as a result of the accident.

The remote accident site has been battered by heavy rainfall and flooding, making it extremely difficult for the authorities to access the site.

A spokeswoman for Queensland Rail said one locomotive and all 26 wagons of the derailed train lay scattered at the accident site.

Inspector Trevor Kidd told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday that efforts were being made to assess the impact of the spill on the environment.

"That's what we're assessing - geography is in our favor due to that remote location," he said. "It is some significant distance from major waterways and any major infrastructure, so we do have something going our way as far as that goes, but it is certainly challenging to make an effective assessment at this stage."

Sulfuric acid is corrosive and can cause severe burns when it comes into contact with the skin.

Queensland Rail said the assessors were yet to determine the cause of the derailment. Police believe the derailment could have been caused by floodwaters sweeping away supports for the tracks.

Three workers on the train are recovering in hospital after sustaining minor injuries.

ap/msh (AFP, dpa)

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