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​Ammonium nitrate truck explodes

A truck transporting ammonium nitrate has exploded in South
West Queensland, destroying bridges, sections of the road, and two firefighting
trucks.

The vehicle was reportedly carrying more than 50 tonnes of
AN when it rolled, just south of Charleville, late on Friday night, according to the ABC.

Ammonium nitrate is a key
ingredient in creating explosives.

The truck initially caught fire, and had firefighters
attempting to extinguish the blaze, when it exploded, injuring eight people.

Luckily the driver was pulled from the truck immediately after
the initial roll over occurred, with no one being injured in the subsequent
blast.

“As I
understand the auxiliaries performed a snatch and grab (of the driver), they
witnessed certain fire activities which gave the indication they needed to get
out as soon as they could,” chief superintendent for the south west region
Lindsay Hackett explained, according to the Toowoomba Chronicle.

It is understood that the blast
itself was caused after fuel leaked into the ammonium nitrate load.

“We’ve had a primary and a
secondary explosion out there – it’s quite a devastating scene,” assistant
fire commissioner for the south west region Tom Dawson told the ABC.

“The infrastructure damage to that road is
significant.”

He went on to say that the injuries of those caught up in
the blast consist of “a lot of bruising, cutting, very minor burns from flying
pieces of debris, and certainly a lot of internal bruising, which is what the medical
people are looking at.

It was “beyond luck”
that no one was killed in the explosion, Dawson added.

Police are currently searching
for remnants of the vehicle, however due to the size of the explosion they are
finding the task difficult.

“When we were extricating in an emergency situation we
could not locate any specific wreckage of the vehicle,” local senior sergeant
Adrian Rieck told the ABC.

“This could be
for a couple of reasons – one we were unable to conduct an appropriate
assessment based on the amount of smoke and the ammonium nitrate and risk of
further injury; we had to evacuate as soon as we could.

“The second
issue for that is the fact that due to the type of explosion that the vehicle
has disintegrated.”

Rollovers or incidents
concerning ammonium nitrate trucks are relatively rare, with the incident
outside Charleville the first recorded explosion for some time.

In 2012 two drivers were injured after a collision between two trucks, one carrying ammonium nitrate, occurred,
which resulted in a spill of AN across the road.

In that same year another
explosive truck rolled, spilling approximately 200kg of AN across the road.

Image: QLD Police Service

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