Lightning hit a railway track while workers were doing maintenance work. FILE IMAGE
Lightning hit a railway track while workers were doing maintenance work. FILE IMAGE Shari Mold SBM Photography

Eleven hurt in massive lightning strike

ELEVEN members of a railway maintenance crew had to be taken to hospital on Saturday after lightning struck train tracks they were working on in WA's Goldfields-Esperance region.

The incident happened about 8am (11am AEDT) on Saturday when a severe thunderstorm hit near Leonora, about 200km north of Kalgoorlie, as a team of about 25 workers were carrying out routine repairs on the Kalgoorlie to Leonora freight line.

The affected workers were initially taken to the Leonora Hospital where a decision was then made to transport the two most seriously injured patients to Kalgoorlie via the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Another two patients were also flown to Kalgoorlie later that evening.

A spokeswoman for the WA Country Health Service said two of the men remained in the hospital.

She said could not comment on the men's injuries, but said lightning strikes were known to cause muscle fibre degeneration which could also impact on internal organs.

"Lightning strikes can affect the heart, affect kidney functioning, it can make limbs weak, cause general malaise and headaches, loss of consciousness," the spokeswoman said.

"In some cases it can cause burning or affect one's hearing. In rare cases it can cause death."

A spokeswoman for ARC Infrastructure, which operates the line, said an investigation was underway and the families of affected workers were being supported.

"We deeply appreciate the efforts of the teams at St Johns Ambulance Leonora, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Leonora Hospital and Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital," the spokeswoman said