Mining workers 'left disturbed' after iron ore train collision in WA

Union disputes Rio Tinto's claim that no people were in vicinity of crash site

Mining workers 'left disturbed' after iron ore train collision in WA

Five rail crew workers were "left disturbed" after surviving the iron ore train collision that occurred on Monday in Western Australia's Pilbara region, according to the Mining and Energy Union (MEU).

The autonomous train, which was operated by mining giant Rio Tinto, got derailed and hit a set of stationary wagons about 80 kilometres outside Karratha.

Rio Tinto said 22 wagons and three locomotives were impacted, and that there were no people within the vicinity of the incident.

Union disputes Rio Tinto's claims

But the MEU disputed the mining giant's claims, saying five rail crew workers were present at that time of the incident and were carrying out a "train rescue" operation prior to the collision.

"To say that there were no people in the vicinity of the incident is untrue," said Greg Busson, Mining and Energy Western Australian secretary, in a statement.

"There were five workers working on the broken-down train while the automated iron ore train was on course to collide with the stationary train."

These employees promptly evacuated after receiving a mayday signal that the automated train would impact the rear of the train they were working on.

If the workers were at the rear of the train at the time of the incident, then they would have seen fatal outcomes, according to Busson.

"While we are thankful that workers were not at the rear of the train and had enough time and space to evacuate, workers have been left disturbed," he said.

The MEU said they want a full explanation from Rio Tinto over why its fail-safe systems failed during the incident.

Investigation underway

This is the second trail derailment incident in the Pilbara region this year after an incident with an empty autonomous train from Dampier in February, ABC News reported.

Rio Tinto said investigation is underway in this most recent train crash, adding that work will soon begin to clear the rail line.

A report about the collision lodged to the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) said a recovery train collided with the ore train that it was sent to recover after it was disabled by a mechanical failure, ABC News reported.

"ONRSR is investigating the incident and will be making a series of enquiries," a spokesperson from the office told ABC News. "At this stage, these are focused on the operation of and adherence to signalling systems in the area."

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