Sulphuric acid 'may have leaked' after Australia train derailed

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Media captionAustralia sulphuric acid train derails

More than 30,000 litres (6,600 gallons) of sulphuric acid may have leaked from a freight train that derailed in Australia on Sunday, police say.

Carrying 819,000 litres of sulphuric acid, the 26-wagon train derailed 20km (12.4 miles) east of Julia Creek, in north-west Queensland.

A 2km exclusion zone is likely to remain for at least 48 hours.

Regional flooding has hampered access, but police say they hoped salvage teams would reach the site shortly.

"Assessments to date indicate that one of the carriages has likely ruptured and it is possible that up to 31,500 litres of acid has leaked out," police said in a statement.

"No other ruptured carriages have been identified as leaking at this stage."

Authorities had earlier said that the train was carrying 200,000 litres of sulphuric acid.

Salvage crews have not yet reached the site but police said that they hoped to have teams there by the end of Tuesday, depending on the weather.

A spokesperson for Queensland Rail, which operates the service, said that the flooding had prevented its own staff from reaching the site.

It is not yet clear what caused the accident and whether floodwaters played a role.

Initial testing by Queensland's environment department indicated that any leak had not affected nearby waterway Horse Creek.

Sulphuric acid is a highly corrosive substance that can cause severe burns on contact with skin.

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