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Australian ammonium nitrate truck explosion injures eight

08 September 2014

A truck carrying more than 50 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser crashed  and exploded 30km south of Charleville in Queensland on September 5. Eight people, including a police officer and four firefighters, were injured in the blast, which destroyed two firefighting vehicles and two bridges, one road and one rail.

Stock image
Stock image

Two motorists who stopped to help were also injured and the truck driver remains in a critical condition with serious burns and head injuries in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

Shockwaves from the blast were felt up to 30 kilometres away, and the local fire chief described the fact no-one died as "a miracle". Geoscience Australia detected a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in the area, thought to be due to the explosion.

The site of the explosion was the centre of a two-kilometre exclusion zone for the following 48 hours, with Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) saying it was too unsafe to enter with pockets of ammonium nitrate still burning. Authorities have put in place a 600-kilometre detour around the devastated stretch of highway.

Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson said his department was working as fast as possible to open an alternative four-wheel-drive track around the explosion site.

Workplace Health and Safety officers will conduct an investigation into the explosion. Initial conjecture is that a combination of the chemical and diesel caused the explosion after the truck came off the road and rolled over.

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