The Perth-bound train is thought to have been diverted off the main line at Zanthus, Western Australia about 200km from Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The train was sent into a passing loop where the freight train was standing. Two carriages were derailed. The loop is controlled by a set of points and it is not known how they came to be set to allow the passenger train into the loop. According to a spokesperson for National Rail "the points are initially set by the train crew of the train of one of the trains, and once the train passes the switches restore themselves to their previous position automatically".
It was announced by the rail authorities that an inquiry into the accident will commence immediately. This will attempt to determine whether the accident was caused by faulty points or human error.
The accident occurred occurred at about 17:00 local time when most of the passengers were sitting down for a meal. The injured were airlifted to hospital in Kalgoorlie-Boulder from the scene by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Most suffered only slight injuries, but 4 were detained in hospital. The remaining passengers and train crew, around 181 people were transported by special trains to the city about 200km away. From there, they were taken onto Perth by train and coaches.
The Indian Pacific is billed as "the last true trans-continental train journey remaining in the world today" and travels from coast to coast, Sydney - Adelaide - Perth. It is used predominantly by tourists.