Saturday, December 22, 2007

Storms halt Indian Pacific in its tracks

Storm damage has halted the Indian Pacific train in western NSW, forcing passengers to take a 1,000km bus ride through flooded countryside.

The Indian Pacific was heading east from Perth and Adelaide towards Sydney on Friday night, when heavy rain in far-west NSW forced the train back to Broken Hill.

Flooding damaged track between Ivanhoe and Condobolin some time between 6pm and midnight (AEDT), a Great Southern Railway spokeswoman said.

In north-western NSW, heavy rain has dumped a record 171mm at Coonamble since midnight and 141mm at nearby Coonabarabran.

Many local roads leading to Coonabarabran have been cut by flooding but the town itself has sustained minor damage, a State Emergency Service spokesman says.

Further north at Baradine, a town of 300, residents are working to sandbag a small levee that has overflowed, causing most of the area to flood.

At Mendooran, the Castlereagh River has exceeded minor flood levels and is expected to rise further this evening, the Bureau of Meteorology reported.

SES spokesman Phil Campbell said emergency crews had received 370 calls from across NSW and were urging people not to "drive, ride or walk near floodwaters".

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