A passenger train and truck collided at a rail crossing in southern Australia Tuesday, killing at least eight people and injuring up to 50, police said.

Authorities suggested the death toll could go higher since rescuers were still sifting through the wreckage.

"We have eight confirmed fatalities and my understanding is that they are still searching the wreckage for some missing people," Victoria state police Inspector Steve Gibson told Sky News television.

Emergency workers raced to the scene shortly after the early afternoon accident. Police would not say how many people remain unaccounted for and possibly were still trapped in the train, which was heading for the state capital of Melbourne, near Kerang in Victoria state.

Up to 50 people were injured, Gibson said, and the most seriously hurt were being flown to hospitals in the Melbourne, 175 miles southeast of Kerang, a small farming town.

While there was no barrier at the rail crossing, flashing lights and warning bells were working, Gibson said.

Victoria Premier Steve Bracks said the crash would be investigated by police, a coroner and government rail authorities.

The truck driver was among about 12 people who were seriously injured in the crash, which derailed and decoupled some of the train's six carriages, Gibson said. The driver was alone in the truck.

The train continued 500 feet after the impact, according to Sue Fyffe, a passenger.

"It just seemed like the whole train was going to derail," she said.

She said the carriage directly behind hers "is half gone. There's a big gaping hole in the side."